The Power of Digital STEM Education: Firsthand Feedback from the Field
Through our work in schools across the country, we see the extraordinary influence that teachers and administrators have on the lives of children and the impact of digital education across the both sides of the classroom. In fact, an overwhelming majority of teachers (83%) that we work with say that using digital education in their classroom has a positive effect on their students’ academic outcomes.
Today we highlight Walda Walker, V.I.T. at Karns Middle School in Knoxville, TN. She uses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s STEM Scholars program as part of her Computer Applications and Online Safety classroom and shares her inspiration for teaching, the challenges that come with it, and the impact of digital education.
Q. Why did you want to be a teacher?
I became a teacher because of my love of learning and because of the impact that my own teachers had in my life.
Q. Why is it important to embrace technology in the classroom?
Early on, I recognized that computers would be a driving force in the future of the world. I also recognize that embracing this advancement makes life so much easier, both as a teacher and as an employee. I teach Computer Applications and Online Safety because I want to share the educational fun that comes with exploring technology.
Q. What are some of the challenges you run into as a teacher of tech?
There are a variety of challenges that come with being a computer teacher. It’s difficult to keep up with the rapidly changing technology and to find the money to update existing equipment or purchase the latest equipment and programs. My students have a variety of levels of experience with computers and productivity software and a variety of bad habits that can be difficult to break.
Q. What is the value of having access to a digital STEM resource?
The foundation of my class is to help students connect their personal interests to a variety of STEM careers. Once they research those careers, we discuss how technology influences each and every one. The STEM Scholars program is a perfect example of this concept because it taps into student interest and curiosity to make STEM concepts relatable. It is especially helpful for my lower achieving students because it uses all the learning styles to teach them about potential careers, from Arts to Engineering! Plus, the program allows students to explore how technology manifests itself in ALL aspects of our lives. It allows students to see how they can go beyond consumers of technology and become contributors to our progressing world.
Q. What’s the best part about teaching?
When a student tells me about a project they are working on and how my class enabled them to complete it.
Q. What are the important traits that future teachers must possess?
It is important for students pursuing an education degree to have a strong conviction and commitment to sharing knowledge and skills with students. These two characteristics will overshadow the challenges faced along the way. Many students have more than their fair share of struggles in and out of the classroom. Teachers need to be able to reach through and not only educate but assist in enabling students to overcome some of the other issues. Education is a heart business.
Q. Finish the sentence “STEM is…”
STEM is exploring how to creatively and responsibly contribute to the future of our world.