In our previous blog, we talked about the importance of a great teacher in STEM and listed out qualities that make them great. But for an aspirant like you who wants to be a successful teacher in their STEM career, you definitely would want to know the career path that lies ahead of you.
Here are the top 7 ways that help you begin your teaching career in STEM.
7 Ways to Advance Your Stem Career
Interest in STEM, Interest to Learn and Interest to Teach
A cardinal requirement for you to have a successful teaching career in STEM is to be invested in the STEM industry and to have a passion for teaching students. Explore, learn and play around with concepts and tinker around with different parts and robot kits and apply your observations to the classes.
When you are passionate in your classes, it inflicts the same to your students. This helps them be interested in the subject you are teaching. A passionate teaching career in STEM fondles your brain as well as learning it can.
Have a Related Educational Background
It is not set in stone that a teacher must have a related degree or an educational qualification in science to teach students in STEM, however, it is highly preferred to have one. Academic education in science or technology gives guided learning and knowledge for such a vast subject such as STEM which aids your success as a teacher.
Mr Ivan Dorjee Lepcha, head of a top-performing STEM Lab in Gangtok, India, says “a minimal science background with an inclination towards technology or a technological background with an inclination towards science is highly prefered. Some form of formal education also helps to know the contributions of science to technology and vice versa.”
Learn to Manage a Classroom
When teaching students, learning to manage the classroom is obvious. Unlike a normal classroom, a STEM lab has all sorts of equipment like PCBs, cables and wires, DIY STEM kits and construction material that students can interact and play with. Students are enamoured with all the materials they see. They are also actively engaged i.e., they are experimenting, working on something and asking questions all at the same time.
Learning to manage the classroom is obvious. A STEM lab is beyond the ordinary education of classrooms and textbooks. It is a place that gives you and the students the opportunity to dream and materialise theoretical and practical concepts. Thus, setting the right expectations is key for a successful teacher in STEM.
Keep Yourself Updated in the Industry and Upskill Yourself
We have already talked about this in the previous blog and we are doing it again. It is imperative that you be updated in the STEM industry – the new technologies that are coming up and trends that are happening – to have a successful teaching career in STEM.
Upskilling is also equally important than just “knowing” what is there. Taking up courses of upcoming technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, Internet of Things, robotic automation trends, etc. is a good way to keep yourself on top in the industry.
While also upskilling and keeping up-to-date, ask yourself how you can include these when teaching students.
Have a Growth Mindset
In a STEM career (or anywhere for that matter), having a growth mindset is key for a successful teaching career. It’s not always about teaching students and there are times where you will have to do more. Opportunities such as leadership and public speaking are abundant in a STEM career.
For example, if you’re part of a major STEM education centre, you end up taking demo classes for big schools with a 200+ student-teacher audience. This isn’t just a closed classroom with a safe environment. You will have to appeal to students of different classes, teachers and other audience members.
A growth mindset exposes you to several opportunities – adding skills and knowledge – and letting you grow as a person. This adds a range of experiences to your overall STEM career.
Heading a STEM Lab
So you have been a successful teacher for a while now and have had leadership experiences, your next STEM career upgrade would be to take up different leadership positions in a STEM lab or STEM education centre.
You could go from becoming the Head of Department and to ultimately heading the STEM lab or education centre. This would only be possible after the extra experiences you had that we mentioned above.
After being a teacher or heading a STEM lab for years and learning the ropes, your best next opportunity for growth could be going regional, national or global. This is when your values and vision for the industry comes into fruition. For example, you can become an active contributor to the STEM industry by heading organizations, solving social issues through STEM or providing technological solutions to problems. That path from here is open-ended.
If you have noticed, you aren’t necessarily restricted to a teaching career in STEM. In fact, along with teaching students, you have ample opportunities to do other things and give yourself more to progress in your career.
True Stories of Successful Teachers
If you think that a teacher’s career path is a dead end, then you’re absolutely in the wrong. Let’s look at two successful teachers who started from humble beginnings and are now in one of their STEM career peaks.
Mr. Ravinder Singh had always been interested in teaching and coupled with his fascination towards science, took up personal science teaching sessions with children at a young age. He went ahead on the path to teach science to students professionally and realised the curriculums were all theoretical. He wished for more practical pedagogy since students found it hard to understand concepts with just theory.
After looking around, he fell upon “STEM”, which not only looked interesting but also promising. That was when he became a STEM trainer with STEMpedia. After the initial months of teaching and training students, he grew alongside STEMpedia’s progress as a company by taking up different opportunities and is now the Education Program Manager. His role primarily involves drafting curriculums, drafting teaching and training methodologies and training new STEM trainers for different labs and education centres.
When asked about the future of his STEM career from here on, he says “I chose a profession which I loved. I will never get tired. I will always learn something new in the industry. From here on, I’d like to go big. I want to propose a new curriculum and will constantly work on making it to that of rank 1. I would do that. I will go there.”
Ivan Dorjee Lepcha
Mr Ivan Dorjee Lepcha is the physics head of the department of Paljor Namgyal Girl’s School and in-charge of an Atal Tinkering Lab (a government initiative of STEM labs across India) in Gangtok, India. What’s fascinating about Mr. Ivan is his undying perseverance to empower his students in the fields of STEM. He always dreamt of having a space for him and his students in the school to explore and learn the wonders of science and technology. But this journey wasn’t easy.
The city, nestled in the Himalayan mountains, made it difficult for him to obtain common materials such as a PCB and an LED light bulb. But this is only an obstacle he overcame. His compelling passion for STEM and teaching students drove him to start the STEM lab and take charge of it. And now, he allows his students to come into the lab and tinker with anything for however long they want.
He has led his students to win numerous science competitions conducted by NCSCM, EISF, ISCA and other organisations and continues to do so. When asked about the future of his STEM career from here on, he says he’d like to solve social issues through the STEM industry or produce technological solutions to social problems.
In a Nutshell
The best part of a STEM career in teaching is, along with teaching students, you are exposed to opportunities that greatly enhance you as an individual. The two personalities we spoke about above are prime examples of successful teachers who have their visions set high and are on their way to change the life of students; in-turn changing the world.