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Importance of Professional Development: A Success Story in Kitsap

Posted by EiE Team on Wednesday, December 21, 2022

“The training experience was exceptional, and the best STEM training I have ever attended. As someone who did not previously consider themselves confident in teaching STEM, it has been exciting to bring this knowledge back into the classroom and share it with my colleagues.” Mackenzie Allpress, 3rd Grade: Cottonwood Elementary School, WA.

Engaging, hands-on professional development can mean the difference between educators feeling prepared and confident in their classroom or overwhelmed by new materials. Studies show that educators’ confidence can have a direct impact on their students and learning outcomes – teachers who participate in high-quality professional development and pass the knowledge along to their students can boost achievements by about 21 percentile points!

These training opportunities are designed to provide educators with additional experience in the pedagogy of any learning program, as well as providing background information in a given subject. This added practice and experience provides confidence to support in-class work, and translated into action, can be the spark that allows a student to find a passion for a new field.

But the importance of professional development isn’t just theoretical — just ask Doug Dowell, STEM Coordinator and Grant Supervisor for Central Kitsap School District in Washington state. 

Using congressional funding earmarked for education, Dowell spearheaded the district’s expansion of their use of EiE material from just Engineering is Elementary®, 2nd Edition to now include Wee Engineer®, EiE® for Kindergarten, and our K–5 Engineering and Computer Science Essentials™ curriculum. To support the implementation of these programs, educators from Kistap participated in two professional development workshops held in 2022. The first took place in Washington with educators from across the district with a hands-on review of all the materials. The second was attended on-site at the Museum in Boston by a smaller group of educators who participated in an additional train-the-trainer workshop, EiE’s Certified Educator Institute (CEI), focusing on EiE’s teaching methodology and curricula more in-depth. Learn more about the Kitsap district’s professional development story by clicking here

“I’ve heard a LOT of positive comments from our teachers both after the June & July trainings and especially after the August CEI training at the MOS,” Doug said. “Before the training, there was a mixed bag of feelings/emotions about teaching [computer science], but the majority seemed to have some level of anxiety — from mild to significant. The genesis of this seemed to be primarily rooted in their lack of experience/training in computer science and engineering.” 

“Afterwards, the general consensus was a feeling of excitement at being able to expose their students to something (CS) that they know they will need in order to be successful in their lives moving forward,” said Doug.

When asked about their overall experience, attendee Katelynn Harken replied, “this was a career/life changing experience… I feel as if this [has] made me a better advocate for engineering education and a better teacher.”

Not only does the training provide needed confidence, but it can also provide clear instruction for how to proceed in any teaching field. After attending the hands-on training in Washington, Dana Avery, 5th Grade teacher, said “[t]his training gave me a clear path for next year, one that I feel confident I can start implementing right away.”

But, it’s the long term impacts that really resonate the most. “EiE’s training has allowed me to increase my knowledge in the field of engineering and computer science. As a result, I have become more confident in my classroom practice by using the integrated approach to support my students’ understanding in science related concepts thus building their confidence too.” Emily Lehnhoff, John D. ‘Bud’ Hawk Elementary, 1st Grade, Jackson Park, WA.

Educators had such a positive experience with the EiE professional development opportunities, that the district has contracted for another round of training with a new group of educators this coming summer 2023.

Do you want to learn how to replicate this success in your district? Contact your local EiE Representative or request a custom quote for a professional development opportunity on our website.

Written by EiE Team

Topics: EiE Resources for Teachers, EiE Teaching Tips, EiE Research Results, Implementing EiE, Professional Development

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