Theme of the month

Theme of the Month

Join us each month as we focus on a topic of interest to STEM Teacher Leaders with a webinar panel, open
discussion, resources and blog post. 

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Join the Discussion: Strategies for Supporting Students and Teachers Amidst Reopening Schools

In this facilitated discussion starting September 23rd, we will address multiple challenges around school reopening, including emotional connectivity to and engagement of students. We invite your participation!


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Thanks to all the panelists and discussion participants! Let's keep the conversation going:

  • What advice have you received or given that has been most useful this school year?
Thu, 09/24/2020 - 11:08 AM Permalink

This webinar was really important and I appreciate all the presenters. Melanie Ramey was able to provide an important message about connecting with students each and every day and having her students fill out a google form daily. As teachers, we need to know how are our students doing? If they know we care, then we can make it through these challenges and come out on the other side even better! I loved that Michael Yeung said teach the whole family. That is really a truism. The whole family supports the education of your student. Getting them involved is excellent. I also love that he asks the students first to 5 how are they feeling. Excellent!  Brian Foley's Outstanding Pandemic Teaching Awards is very clever. I think all teaching organizations need to hand out OPTA! We have to think differently, and Brian shows us a way. Dario Soto reminds us that kids need to have jobs, and by having jobs this helps kids have ownership in the classroom. And, if they have ownership, they will be learning!  He also mentioned the digital lunch bunch! How great is this!! Dario reminds us that students must be able to relate to us. No one learns from somebody they don't like! It's all about relationships! And, if I look back at my own grades you can see that is true with me. If I liked the teacher, I got an A, and if I didn't like the teacher, well, let's just say I would have a C! Quite a difference. 

Thank  you so much for this great seminar/webinar. I found it to be very validating! You are all excellent presenters!


Wed, 09/30/2020 - 3:41 PM Permalink

I am so glad you found the webinar validating! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your reaction, Elizabeth.

In case anyone didn't get a chance to view yet, check out helpful resources and tips from the amazing teacher panelists

Fri, 10/02/2020 - 1:17 PM Permalink
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It is important now more than ever to take care of each other.  Send a short email to a colleague on something positive they’ve done. Give an eyeglass wearer some anti fog spray.  Chocolate is good too. How about some facial wipes!  Ask the new teacher and even the veterans how is it going? At lunch, don’t just talk about COVID.  What was your favorite cereal or movie as a kid?  I found a bracelet that says “just breathe”.  I wear it every day.  When students walk in the room, greet them by name.  Let the students know you are doing what you can to make them comfortable- a jar of wrapped mints, clean masks, paper cups if the fountains are “blocked” and only water bottle filling stations are available... it’s the little things that count and they notice. 

Thu, 10/01/2020 - 7:36 PM Permalink
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Thanks for the feedback! I wanted to add a couple more thoughts about online teaching.

Teaching and learning online doesn't give people the same level of connection, so it is important to be more intentional in how you engage students. You need to be persistent in finding ways to get students to engage and to resist giving in to the silence. Students need to be talking in order to learn. That could be during an online session, or by recording something ( is great) or chatting with their group outside of class. If you are struggling to get them to talk (as many are) keep trying new ways and let them know that you are not giving up.

The other thing to get students participating is to personalize their learning. Finding some way to make the activity specific to them. One way is to use a tutoring system that tracks their individual work. The will be personally invested in moving up in the system. Another way is to give students choice in what they work on so they choose what they are interested in. Projects and reports are great ways to do this.

What is working for you?

Fri, 10/02/2020 - 3:17 PM Permalink
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Teaching during this pandemic has caused us all to rethink how we educate our students, but it is also an opportunity to teach them that STEM is where they are and not just one hour a day at school or only in the STEM lab. Now is the time to ask students to observe the world around them. Engage them in recognizing how STEM solution thinking took place to get them to transition from in-person to at home in the spring.  Discuss the online meeting platforms that had to be updated from being primarily used for adults in the business to being used by students in the K-12 settings. Day after day, scientific updates are becoming common topics of discussions everywhere. Sparking students' curiosity using the natural world and asking for them to give their perspectives how their local ecosystem is changing based on fewer cars on the road participating in social distancing for the safety of their neighbors. Giving them a voice and putting them in charge of how they work through STEM challenges optimizes their time together where in person or working virtually. They are no longer simply be talked at, but asked to work collaboratively on a a minds-on, hands-on task. While the students are busy discovering a scientific phenomenon or working to find a solution, teachers can take the time to pay attention to the social-emotional health of the individual students. Allowing time to check in and connect with the students is needed as we are all dealing with this new reality in different ways. As we physically distance, we must be mindful to social connect with all of or students and make sure we are giving access to our neurodiverse students at this time as well. 

In our Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas Council, we are making sure that our STEM workshops and events keep the girls engaged by making sure every interaction is girl-led, hands-on and collaborative. Whether it is a virtual field trip to my camp (, connecting the girls with an If/Then STEM Ambassador (, or asking them to redesign how we can deliver cookies safely in a COVID world, we are bringing STEM to them and building their confidence so that they feel ready to participate in class when a topic comes up that they have experienced firsthand.

Sat, 10/03/2020 - 6:32 PM Permalink

Cool field trip resource! I shared this with my daughter;)

Girl Scouts is an awesome partner on the IF/THEN - IF we support a woman in STEM, THEN she can change the world - initiative sponsored by Lyda Hill Philanthropies. AAAS is also a partner and our role is to select and manage the AAAS IF/THEN®  Ambassadors Program Shane mentioned. The program brings together 125 women from a variety of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers to serve as high-profile role models for middle school girls. STEM professionals use their skills in many fields – including research and development, sports and recreation, finance, fashion, gaming, engineering and manufacturing, entertainment, healthcare, retail, music, and more. 

  • You can see the full list of AAAS IF/THEN®  Ambassadors here:,
  • The IF/THEN® Collection is the world’s largest, free digital library of its kind, with thousands of photos and videos of diverse, real women in STEM and is a free resource for nonprofit organizations, museums, schools, teachers, camps, and parents.



Mon, 10/05/2020 - 1:13 PM Permalink
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The beginning of school brought an overwhelming amount of new guidelines, protocols, resources, and technology tools into teachers' laps. As teachers we strive to be our best for our students, but often forget there is always room to grow and there is no perfect lesson. The advice I've held onto this school year is if you're going to try something new start by trying one new thing. Once you and your kiddos get the hang of the one new thing, you may be more inclined to try another new thing.  Setting the pace ourselves allows us to determine what goes on our plate to give our best (and still learning) selves to our students.  

Mon, 10/05/2020 - 1:17 PM Permalink
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My best advice for others during distance learning is to find the routines and procedures that best fit your students and content and stick with it. Learning digitally can feel uncomfortable and unknown for many (probably most). When we think about school pre-Covid, most of our students’ back to school jitters resulted from entering a new classroom with new and unknown routines and procedures. Once these have been taught and learned, students become comfortable in their environment and more at ease in the learning process. How much more true this is during Covid! Our students are not only struggling with the uncertainty of new teachers and distance learning, but also uncertainty of the world around them. We can help them cope with certainty of routines and procedures for distance learning and hopefully ease some of their anxiety. 

Mon, 10/05/2020 - 1:18 PM Permalink
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One of the things that I have found to be most prevalent this school year is the need to connect. So many of my students are starved for connections with their peers. Any opportunities to bring students together in conversation should be leveraged. 

Breakout sessions for group work are a great option. I did this with my 6th grade over the past week while they worked on a virtual engineering problem. They were given short meeting times in which they were in moderated breakout rooms to discuss how they wanted to create their design. The conversations they had were on task and certainly the best group work I have heard in a long time. They clearly appreciated this small semblance of normalcy and the feedback from the students was very positive. 

Sat, 10/10/2020 - 2:55 PM Permalink
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As we are trying to reimagine what education looks like during this time, we must ask what are our goals. Teachers work in education because we want to help the world become a better place. To that end, we must look at technology as a tool that can help us achieve this goal, not have using technology become the goal. When I am in coaching sessions with teachers many times the question comes up "what apps should I be using". My response is "what are you trying to do”. The tool needs to fit the job the job will never try to fit the tool. For example, in mathematics we want students to have digital manipulatives (I have linked a great site for some) but in some cases will poor wifi at home make dry beans and spaghetti a better tool. In science with want students to use simulators to create structures, maybe gumdrops and toothpicks can be used to help create models.

I am a techie and I love what we are able to do with all these new advancements in technology, but I realize the greatest advancement for teachers is a deeper understanding of our students’ needs. Having this deeper understanding will lead us to achieve our goals.

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 9:21 AM Permalink
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