A truly inspiring professional development opportunity makes you excited about teaching and lesson planning and eager to take action" said Rachel Taylor, a student in the Endeavor STEM Teaching Certificate Project. Rachel completed her first course, Methods of STEM Education, and is working towards completing her Leadership Certificate in STEM Education as a part of the 2020 Regeneron cohort. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and the STEM Leadership Center collaborate with Endeavor to provide a research experience for teachers and STEM coursework.
When asked about her experience in her first course, Taylor shared "The workload was manageable and extremely meaningful to me. I haven't taken an education course since college, and so much has changed!" The Methods of STEM Education course is the foundation for the entire Endeavor program and is focused on topics such as the Nature of STEM, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), data integration, phenomena, and engaging contexts for integrated STEM. "While I have previously attempted to get a grip on NGSS, nothing came together until I took this course… I have a deeper understanding of the nature of STEM, as well as what integrated STEM looks like in a culturally responsive classroom." When asked how this course influences what she does in her classroom, Taylor shared a myriad of examples, including a personal anecdote about her unfortunate mishaps with growing zucchini plants. Due to the new knowledge she gained from her course professor, Dr. Eliza Bobek, she now sees her failure in gardening as a great opportunity to create an engaging anchoring phenomenon for her unit on human reproduction, something she never would have considered previously.
Taylor has great plans for her future in education and sees teacher leadership as a definite trajectory. Taylor shares "I feel so confident in what I've learned that I am eager to return to school to not only initiate conversations in our science department about NGSS, but to lead the transition. The course has given me a new mindset towards teaching, and I have clear goals set in mind to improve my lesson planning for next year." Taylor has already shared her final lesson plan, created as a culminating element of her first course, with other educators in New York City.
Taylor selected Culturally Relevant Pedagogy in the STEM Classroom as her second course in the Fall 2020 where she will dig deeper into what it means to create a space inclusive of all students. She will choose one more course for the Spring 2021 semester and will complete a leadership capstone, called Practicum in STEM Leadership, to complete her program. This final capstone is focused on creating, refining, and supporting teacher leaders and is the final requirement before earning the STEM Certificate. As a fellow in the Regeneron cohort, Rachel will also participate in an in-person experience for two weeks during the summer. The research experience is unique to the teachers in the Regeneron cohort.
Taylor is constantly working on revamping her curriculum and looking for ways to improve her practice. When asked if she would tell other teachers about the program, Taylor shared, "The Endeavor Teaching Certificate Project has truly started my engine. Teaching is an ever-evolving practice, and I now feel like I have a new set of tools to rework my curriculum once again. I would highly recommend the Endeavor program to any educator interested in a great professional development experience that will leave you inspired and ready to get to work teaching quality STEM education.