ST1.7: STEM educators collaborate as an interdisciplinary team to plan, implement, and improve integrated STEM learning experiences.
At Bates Middle School, STEM educators collaborate as interdisciplinary teams to plan, implement, and improve integrated STEM learning experiences. Each grade level, along with the related arts teachers, work together to create grade level Project Based Learning Units of study. Weekly collaborative planning sessions are held between departments and related arts teachers during common planning time on Fridays. During this time, teachers discuss best instructional practices needed to plan STEM lessons, units, and assessments. Lessons are differentiated to meet the needs of all students and include purposeful planning. School-wide common rubrics for the 4 C’s (collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking) and for student presentations have been developed to set standards of mastery. Teachers utilize these rubrics in all classes by adding the areas they are assessing to the content standard based rubrics. Bates teachers also engage in interdisciplinary collaboration through virtual meetings. The Google G-Suite is used for teachers to collaborate on lessons and unit plans virtually. Department and Interdisciplinary Google Classrooms have been formed as well as shared folders and drives.
Bates has an identified STEM Team that creates an interdisciplinary conversation about STEM ongoing throughout the year. This team created our STEM Action Plan with the goal to increase the capacity of teachers across all subjects to approach their practice with a focus on STEM Mindedness. The STEM Team meets monthly as well as on two planning days in which a full or half day is dedicated to STEM integrated instructional planning. These planning sessions include the planning of school-wide STEM events both during and after school hours. Field studies, speakers, virtual field trips, school-wide STEM Days, and research opportunities that will enrich instruction are discussed, planned, and scheduled at these meetings. Outreach experiences for both our students and our feeder schools are also planned during this time.
Instructional Leaders/Department Heads from each curricular area meet monthly as our Leadership Team to discuss interdisciplinary concerns and curriculum, and general faculty meetings are also held weekly. One faculty meeting a month is dedicated to interdisciplinary planning. School-wide rubrics addressing student mastery are discussed and formulated in these meetings. Interdisciplinary committees, such as our Growth Mindset Committee and Women in STEM Committee, also meet monthly.
Regular collaboration with our Career Specialist, Gear Up Specialist, Guidance Counselors, and STEM Coordinator regarding additional services and/or support outside of the classroom is another important process. Working closely with these specialists is an important step that supports projects that are not able to be completed in the classroom or need additional support.
Our strength within this indicator is in the structuring of our schedule to allow for substantial common planning time. Teachers meet in interdisciplinary teams on Tuesdays for professional development and Fridays for common planning combined with committee, leadership, and faculty meetings that all have a STEM focus. One weakness identified is the need to re-implement a school-wide PLC Google Classroom in which resources and ideas are shared in an attempt to better organize virtual collaboration into one central location.