Making STEM a Field of Dreams for Teaching Candidates

Iowa STEM convened faculty from private colleges, universities and community colleges to envision programs for producing STEM teachers on November 12
Iowa STEM convened faculty from private colleges, universities and community colleges to envision programs for producing STEM teachers on November 12.

Forty-four college faculty from 25 institutions across Iowa gathered at Grand View University on November 13 to ponder their own versions of the “Field of Dreams” – If we build STEM endorsements for our teaching majors, will they come?

Working alongside officials from the state’s licensing board and department of education, the group honed in on a half-dozen challenges to overcome in realizing a goal of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council to populate Iowa K-12 schools with dynamic STEM educators. Capacity for offering the required coursework, in addition to current teaching loads, was a commonly cited hurdle, along with the need for rethinking existing courses to be more integrating of concepts across the STEM spectrum.

Some college representatives discussed covering the engineering concepts required of the STEM endorsement. Others cautioned that when it comes to elementary teachers, a STEM endorsement would fail to win candidates in this era of emphasis on reading. The consensus of all was to recognize that we can lead in building the STEM endorsement, but school officials and education policy makers are going to need to prioritize STEM to help us drive demand.

A key outcome of the day was an agreement to collaborate on a consortium model that unites multiple institutions in delivering the STEM endorsement coordinated through the STEM Council. Drake’s  prototype STEM endorsement may be viewed at http://www.drake.edu/soe/endorsements/stem/. With a bit of luck and resolve, STEM teachers will emerge from institutions across Iowa in the coming months and years, filling prized positions in K-12 schools in every corner of the state.

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