Naveen has been teaching science, engineering and, most recently, robotics at the intermediate and middle school level for 31 years. His background in earth and space science coupled with a strong interest in incorporating technology in the classroom has resulted in an award winning STEM Academy in his district. His experience as a Presidential Awardee and an Einstein Fellow provided a great springboard into developing the program that provides his students with many options and opportunities for years to come.
As my wife and I began raising our own family, I witnessed firsthand the importance of experiential learning. The lenses I wore as a teacher focused on the programs I designed, the options it provided my students, the opportunities it made available. My degrees in Geology, Educational Technology, and further personal study and training in the Earth and Space Sciences provided a solid foundation upon which to build courses and programs on. Combining this with a knowledge and understanding of our state curriculum, my students learned concepts through examples present in their world around them. They discovered simple machines at work on their campus and home. They studied the effects of pollution in a neighboring lake using underwater robots. They brainstormed ideas to combat the devastation caused by the Corn Earworm while learning about life cycles.
Making connections and communicating with industry professionals, representatives from higher education, and entrants at competitions at different levels diversify their thinking and reach. It helps students develop and participate in communities of like minded learners.
Relevance, experiential learning, and communication truly inserts learners into the role of scientist making an impact in the world around them.
The pathways to becoming a teacher leader
Dear Mr. Cunha: Thank you very much for posting this inspiring video. I used to work closely with teacher leaders from across the country when I directed the National Academies Teacher Advisory Council. Most of their stories are similar to yours.
It's obviously impossible to provide details about this important journey in under 3 minutes. I think that viewers of this video would benefit greatly if you could respond to my comments by addressing the following kinds of questions (plus other points that you think are important:
- At what stage of your career did you start thinking of yourself as a teacher leader? Do you think that your teacher colleagues, administrators, and others with whom you've interacted in this capacity began to think of you in this capacity around the same time that you viewed yourself as a leader? If not, how long did it take for them to do so and what do you think allowed them to view you in this capacity?
- Did you have mentors to help you set your path? What did they do for and with you to help? Are they still involved? If so, in what capacity? How are you paying this kind of help forward to others?
- What kinds of concrete steps did you take to set your course on this pathway to teacher leadership? Are the pathways similar for most people who aspire to be teacher leaders?
Thank you again!
In reply to The pathways to becoming a teacher leader by Jay Labov
Yes, 3 minutes was rather limiting. Thank you for the suggestions and questions.
An Inspiration to all STEM teachers!
Naveen, loved this video, stressing the importance of experiential learning, relevance, and community. Thanks so much. This video is so worth watching!!!!
In reply to An Inspiration to all STEM teachers! by Joni Falk
Thank you for the feedback.
Place based learning
Using local resources for field trips or examples of science principles ensures that students see that science is around them. So many teachers have difficulty finding those local examples and/or connecting them to mandated curriculum. Any suggestions for those teachers who want to use place-based learning but don't know how to do it?
In reply to Place based learning by Arthur Eisenkraft
Yes, that does take time. With today's technological capabilities, one can send out an email to faculty, or event parents asking for local examples to supplement the unit and lessons.
I agree that teacher…
I agree that teacher leadership from within the classroom is so very important. How do you suggest that new STEM teachers find their path to become a future leader from their classrooms?
The connections to…
The connections to communities is so important, and the relevant projects that were created allow students to see the importance of their work. Fantastic job, Naveen!
future teacher leaders
It does not happen by chance. One has to be intentional. Here are several suggestions:
Thank you so much for your very important messages about being teacher leaders in STEM. I wondered if you have worked with elementary educators to help them to become leaders. I often find our teachers are so overwhelmed with the demands on them that they view infusing STEM as "one more thing" instead of a different way of meeting the standards. I am making progress in this area, but wondered if you had any suggestions.
Using Literature to Promote Equity in STEAM
Yes, it is difficult on both sides with all the demands we have on every one of us. It is almost like you have to catch them at just the right time. The further you are in the year, the harder it will get. I have had more success during the week before school starts, during PD time. I have our admin on my side and understand the need to do this. I guess that is the first step. Next, make sure you have a great, fun, interesting example for them to try out and show them how it meets the standards they are required to cover. I usually have them map out their standards, group them according to ones that really support each other and then help them find/develop activities that apply to them.