District Administration October 2017 - 64

ProfessionalOpinion
10 questions to fuel
STEM decisions
There's more to successful programs than merely supplying resources
By Judy Zimny

N

ot long ago, I was visiting
with a highly capable, seniorlevel district administrator
when he said to me, "There are so many
STEM initiatives, resources and vendors
out there. I am a little embarrassed to
admit this, but I am not even sure of
the right questions to ask."
As I considered this administrator's
confusion-and the many compounding variables, such as decreasing budgets, increasing expectations and the
rapid pace at which education leaders
typically have to make decisions-I
wondered how I might help him and
others differentiate the many STEM
choices available today.
After all, preparing students for the
new workplace is part of our mission.
STEM professions are much broader
than the terms science, technology,
engineering and mathematics might
imply. Some of the top-paying STEM
professions are financial and management analysts, information security officers, accountants, civil and mechanical
engineers, computer network architects,
psychologists, IT managers, environmental engineers and software developers, according to U.S. News & World
Report (DAmag.me/usn). Who knows
what the top-paying jobs will be five or
10 years from now?
The questions
I came up with these 10 questions that
busy administrators might ask to help

DAmag.me/fuel

64 October 2017

STEM professions are
much broader than
the terms science,
technology, engineering
and mathematics
might imply.
them quickly and confidently make decisions about STEM ideas that deserve
an additional look.
These questions are designed to
provide an initial framework from
which to expedite STEM decisions with
confidence and consistency. Within
each district, administrators will add
their own critical questions to address
the needs of their teachers and students.
Discuss these questions with your team
and try to answer as many as possible.
The goal is for all involved to be on
the same page about what you hope to
accomplish with your STEM initiative
and to determine the best processes to
get there. See how these processes can
apply to your own STEM initiative and
what other concerns they raise.
1. How likely is this initiative to
help us increase the number of students,
especially those from underrepresented
groups, who pursue STEM in college
or careers?
2. How will this initiative bolster
your STEM learning environment?
How will it impact students' interactions with the teacher or each other?
3. How will this initiative integrate
instruction across-or beyond-the
four STEM content areas? How will we

assess and measure this impact?
4. What percentage of students will
benefit from this STEM initiative and
how likely are we to continue this initiative in future years?
5. How well does this initiative address current skills and workforce needs?
6. How will this initiative help us
engage students in STEM practices?
How well does it develop the dispositions and work-related behaviors fundamental to STEM professionals?
7. How does this STEM initiative
increase students' exposure to the real
work of scientists, engineers and other
professionals? How does it bridge the
gap between theory and practice?
8. How likely is this STEM initiative
to increase students' opportunities to
create solutions to real-world problems?
9. How will this STEM initiative
address teachers' delivery of content
knowledge? How well does it align with
and augment current work being done
in our schools and district?
10. How well does this STEM
professional development support the
teacher actions necessary to create a
STEM classroom?
Success in STEM is not just about
providing access to resources or programs; it is about providing access to
high-quality learning opportunities that
deepen students' understanding and
that can serve as springboards for college and careers. DA
Judy Zimny, Ed.D., is the vice president of
the National Institute for STEM Education
(http://nise.institute), which offers certification
programs in STEM best practices and pedagogy
for both teachers and campuses.
District Administration


http://www.DAmag.me/usn http://www.nise.institute http://www.DAmag.me/fuel

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