Educational structures and school schedules are not designed for modern educational theories such as integrated subject units such as STEAM and its composite support programs (e.g. the Maker Movement). However, there are four processes that you can begin applying immediately to ensure that your school has a meaningful STEAM program.
- Showcase current STEAM work
Find the teachers at your school that are already teaching through integrated subject units, either by choice or by accident. These teachers are mostly likely your school’s natural innovators and already exploring various ways to create meaningful learning opportunities for their students. Interview these teachers; take photos of the work they are doing with their students; and showcase them on the school’s website, in newsletters to parents, at faculty meetings and/or through internal faculty communications. This will both encourage other teachers to seek them out to discuss potential collaboration and validate innovative teachers’ work.
- Create a database of current STEAM work
Choose an online cloud storage tool (e.g. Google Drive) to document and store all STEAM projects happening at your school. Provide a template for teachers to describe their STEAM projects, including areas for the documentation of grade level, subject areas, learning outcomes, assessment methods, and formal or informal lesson plans. This database will provide teachers with proven templates and material to accelerate planning and developing their own STEAM projects.
- Create a STEAM committee
Gather interested teachers to form a committee focused on further developing integrated subject area curricular units across your school. This committee will facilitate developing meaningful assessments around STEAM units, catalyze STEAM adoption by others within your academic community, and continuously research and implement best practice. They will lead the charge when it comes to your school’s STEAM initiatives and help to motivate faculty less confident in adopting integrated subject units.
- Evaluate your progress
While during and after the top three processes are underway, take a moment to evaluate your school’s progress. First, share your STEAM stories with the academic community. This can happen through various social media sites or with education programs at colleges or universities. Second, seek out an integrated learning subject matter expert (SME) to review your school’s progress. Early and persistent feedback on your school’s implementation of STEAM as a formal methodology will be invaluable for developing high quality STEAM offerings.
These four simple processes can help any school of any size or budget create a reflective, flexible, and collaborative STEAM program. For more information on developing your integrated learning program, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org