I often get asked why STEM education? How did I end up teaching this? Admittedly it was a journey that I didn’t expect for myself, but after a recent podcast interview I was able to really pinpoint why STEM education is aligned to my teaching philosophy which goes way beyond 21st century skills and actually aligns with making sure students feel loved.
My why has changed drastically in the last year. I sometimes drifted in and out of states of languish during 2020. I missed my class. I missed the hustle and bustle of New Delhi. I missed meeting new students, creating curriculum and going to events. To be honest I missed numbing myself with work. In the absence of those things I felt my feeble sense of purpose dwindle away. Had I really attached who I was to what I did? To material achievements? How feeble, how small.
I was recently asked, what’s my mission statement? What’s the mission and purpose of Sprouting STEMs? I began teaching at the age of 15, I coached gymnastics for an organisation in my city. For the first time in my life I could see my creativity make people happy. I was hooked. I would create, people would receive it and joy was spread.
I decided I would become a teacher and design instruction around subject matter that made people happy and feel loved.
As I began my teaching career so began my research. I delved into critical pedagogy, social justice education, Socratic methods, RQI methods, brain based learning, Waldorf style learning, Harvard’s Project Zero, Makerspace Education and STEM.
My mission – to spread joy and happiness by humanising the educational experience. By humanising I mean allowing students to create, communicate, collaborate and critically think.
According to Project Zero Makerspace education has the potential to give students agency and autonomy over designed systems in their life. The entire world is designed, we can redesign it. As we all know, many systems are oppressive, destructive and outdated.
STEM education provides students the skills they need to reimagine and redesign their world to be more inclusive, autonomous and mimic that of nature.
But in order for any of that to happen students must feel loved. Their humanity must be recognized, acknowledged and respected. They must be seen. Create a classroom culture where students feel loved. Where a happy student is the focal point to a happy classroom. The subject matter will fall into place, don’t rush it (I’m guilty of that). Let happiness and love for yourself and your students guide the classroom culture.
I know sometimes it’s easier said than done, but remember your why. Determine your why and let that be your lodestar.
5 Ways to Make Students Feel Loved in the Classroom
We all need a little love and attention. During these times everyone is overwhelmed and we do not know what the home environment is like for many of our students.
If it is possible for you set a side a little time for small group meetings or meet with students one-on-one just to give them space to feel loved and heard.
No worries if you simply can’t do it.
The best memories we ever made at school were definitely the informal times.
We’re force to get straight to the point when teaching online. Try to carve out a little time to play games or icebreakers.
Allie The Gypsy Teacher has fantastic ideas for morning meetings both virtual and in person.
Check them out —–> http://www.alliethegypsyteacher.com/
By the design of different platforms we may be missing students or not calling on them. I just saw a video recently where a kindergarten student said he is never called on which is why he does not like learning online.
Use a virtual spinner or random name generator to ensure all students are chosen and feel seen.
School is when we learn what we like, what we don’t like, what we’re good at and what we’re curious about.
Try to rotate jobs and responsibilities to give students a chance to explore different things.
Set aside time to get to know students on an individual level or in small groups.
These are incredibly hard times for everyone. Take care of yourself, give this time grace and be patient.