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What are STEM teacher leader networks?

Building STEM Teacher Leadership

Reflections by the STEM teacher leader community on opportunities and gaps in STEM teacher leader development efforts

 

STEM teachers face many challenges, including isolation. Networks can help bring together teachers who are isolated by distance, content area, and/or position. Many teacher leader networks exist, but they vary in quality and usefulness to teacher leaders and are often not focused on issues specific to STEM.

Defining STEM Teacher Leader Networks. A group of practitioners coming together to solve a common problem or collaborate on a common interest in STEM education. The networks highlighted in this resource include both large and small networks, as well as teacher-created networks and networks established by larger external groups for a specific purpose.

Unique characteristics of STEM Teacher Leader Networks. Networks have a unique meaning for STEM teacher leaders because they face unique challenges:

  • STEM educators need to access rapidly changing content and workforce needs
  • Technology tools supporting STEM content change rapidly
  • Specialization in science and other STEM disciplines, especially at higher level math and sciences, can lead to greater isolation of teachers compared with other subject areas with less specialization
  • STEM teacher leaders have opportunities to connect with external partners (e.g., industry partners, community resources) that may be less available in other content areas

Typical STEM teacher leader networks participants. STEM teacher leader network can include a variety of participants that enrich and strengthen the group’s collective knowledge. These participants can include:

  • Teachers
  • Teacher leaders
  • Support organizations
  • STEM professionals

Types of networks. High-quality networks range from large, national STEM teacher leader networks to small, homegrown STEM teacher leader networks. Networks exist in a variety of contexts, including virtual communities, in-person networks, networks of networks, networks serving isolated professionals, and small group networks.