Sadly, that’s the end of my Teacher Leadership Journey, and the real question is where do I go next…
I have just found out that next year I will be responsible for driving forward STEM within our setting and I am so excited! I am going to be focusing on our P4-7 children whilst supporting another member of staff with the delivery of digital technologies/STEM in the P1-3 cohorts.
After completing the first module of my PG Cert in STEM with distinction, I am now looking forward to, especially after completing this programme, embarking on an enquiry research project to complete module two. My plan is to build upon what I found out through my TLP enquiry within my PG research project and hopefully, this one will not be interrupted by an HMIe inspection and/or a global pandemic!
I am looking forward to where my journey leads me to next.
What does teacher leadership mean to you?
Prior to beginning this programme, I wrote down what Teacher Leadership meant to me. To me it meant challenging yourself, driving learning forward, passion, sharing, collaboration, developing a confidence in myself/ability, commitment, taking forward part of the School Improvement Plan and undergoing an enquiry project.
Now that I am reaching the end of the programme, I still agree with my initial thoughts. This programme as enabled me to recognise an interest in STEM and as a result I enrolled on a PG Cert in STEM in January. I have thoroughly enjoyed the enquiry approach and although it did not turn out as I had planned, and there were many twists and turns, it has created a starting point for the driving forward of STEM in my setting.
Where are you on your leadership journey and how has this been influenced by your enquiring approach?
In terms of where I am on my journey, I completed the GTCS Self-Evaluation Wheel to illustrate this.
I look forward to continuing with this enquiry once the new session starts again!
What are the implications of your learning for your practice, your school and more widely?
This enquiry has mapped out a starting point for myself and our setting in terms of the delivery of STEM.
There has been some shift in the gender bias present since our Digital Learning Week however we now need to keep this going in order to remove barriers and misconceptions (hopefully!)
As a practitioner, and having the opportunity to influence pupils in STEM by inviting outside agencies in more frequently throughout the year, being a positive role model and sharing successes in STEM from a local and national point of view.
Within lessons, it is vital that pupils have the opportunity to experience hands on learning with activities having a real-life link.
What happened for both pupils, staff and my learning community so far?
Through this enquiry and the natural progression of digital learning and STEM within the school due to current policies I have noticed the following:
- The conversations around STEM are becoming more often.
- The integration of STEM activities as ‘free-choice’ options within our infant classes and shared areas
- The suggestions and ideas for Digital Learning Week have taken on more of a STEM career focus than just ‘digital technology’.
- More children are sharing their interest in STEM, enjoying challenges set and sharing their evaluations and adaptations of designs within my classes.
- The school has designated a STEM leader (me) to help drive forward STEM in school through meeting with STEM leaders council wide.
- From feedback from Digital Learning Week, we are hopefully going to rename it as STEM Week and make it a focus week where the whole school is involved in projects.
- Our Digital Leaders will now be known as STEM leaders and will be encouraged to undertake the Young STEM Leader Award.
How do you know?
This is known through professional discussions with my colleagues, observations of pupils and discussions with them during lessons.
Which forms of evidence tell you this and in what way?
Due to circumstances, it has been difficult to gather data to compare to the surveys in January however, I put out a plea to my students online from P4-7 and managed to get 5 responses.
|January Data||March/April Data||Comparison|
|Total number of children participating: 58 (29 Boys, 29 Girls)||Total number of children participating: 5 (3 Boys, 2 Girls)|
|Total number who like: Science 36, Technology 40, Engineering 26, Maths 26||Total number who like: Science 3, Technology 4, Engineering 2, Maths 2||Majority still like technology|
|When asked which gender you see the following careers as:|
|Engineer – Boy 47, Girl 9, Both 2||Engineer – Boy 1, Girl 1, Both 3||Majority now lies with both genders|
|Computer Programmer – Boy 33, Girl 23, Both 2||Computer Programmer – Boy 1, Girl 2, Both 2||Majority now see as girl or both genders|
|Builder – Boy 44, Girl 12, Both 2||Builder – Boy 5, Girl 0, Both 0||Still very male dominated view|
|Scientist – Boy 32, Girl 22, Both 4||Scientist – Boy 0, Girl 1, Both 4||Majority now see as both genders|
|Mathematician- Boy 28, Girl 27, Both 3||Mathematician- Boy 1, Girl 2, Both 2||Majority now see as girl or both genders|
|Total numbers when asked if they would consider a STEM Career in the future – Yes 36, No 22||Total numbers when asked if they would consider a STEM Career in the future – Yes 4, Maybe – 1||Majority still considering a STEM Career|
Why did you do what you did in terms of your context, policy and literature?
I chose to go down this line of enquiry as over the past 3 years I have driven forward Digital Learning forward within my setting, I have witnessed the benefits of this first hand with students across the school and the confidence that it has given them as individuals. It was through this role that I started to develop an interest within STEM, which then led me to start reading into it more.
Naturally, through learning experiences we (the children and I) began to delve deeper into engineering and technology -learning how things worked and why they work. This then brought in more of a STEM spin on learning rather than a focus on Digital Learning
STEM currently has a huge focus placed upon it within Scottish Education primarily due to the gap in employment rates within STEM careers. In 2017, the Scottish Government published its STEM Education and Training Strategy which aims to enable the delivery of excellent STEM learning across Scotland, provide better connections between education and employers.
Literature suggests that somewhere along the STEM Pipeline, the leak. There is ample research to show the various reasons as to why there is a gap within STEM employment and one of the main reasons is due to stereotypes within the field which in turn can cause a gender gap.
One of the ways in which we can rid stereotypes in regards to STEM is by giving learners experiences of STEM learning from an early age, open to both genders, sharing with the children different role models who have STEM Careers.
In December, I created the Plan for my Enquiry Focus – which can be found here:
Now I will go through the plan and reflect on the following points:
What did you actually do, with whom and when?
What changed and why?
1 – Identifying the Focus
My focus has remained unchanged.
2 – Research
Research that I did prior to this enquiry has fed into a PG Cert I have undertaken and vice versa, reading undertaken for the PG Cert course has influenced my enquiry.
3 – Specific Focus
My original specific focus was In what way does the creation of a STEM area in a classroom address the gender gap? This has had to change due to the fact we have not created a STEM area in the classroom. I have had to taken alternative action to this enquiry which is detailed below.
4 – Plan and Implement
The original plan of creating STEM boxes for classrooms and to work alongside SLT to develop STEM areas in the shared areas has changed due to the time constraints, lack of engagement from pupils in the shared areas, and not being able to implement this fully. Instead, I have ensured that through the 90 minutes I have with each class during the week there are ample opportunities to explore gender in STEM, as well as through a wider variety of visitors during our Digital Learning Week.
5 – Gather Data
The gathering of Data was carried out in January with a focus group of 4 children per year group (2 boys and 2 girls). The plan was to revisit the questionnaires with the children before the end of term 3 (april holidays) however, with recent events and restrictions placed upon schools I am now going to carry out a questionnaire with our P4-7 pupils and use this questionnaire in two ways:
1 – to pick out those who had previously completed the survey and compare results.
2 – to use results as a way of seeing where we are in the upper school in regards to our attitudes towards STEM and how I can use this to inform the future of STEM in our school.
6 – Analyse Data
The gathering of Data was carried out in January with a focus group of 4 children per year group (2 boys and 2 girls). The data gathered was analysed and showed a clear bias towards. The results of the other questionnaires are still pending but I will update this once I have the results.
7 – Evaluate and Report
I will report my findings back to my SLT and colleagues which will inform us of how we can move towards tackling the Gender Gap in STEM as a whole school.
8 – Take Informed Action
This will be decided upon conversations between myself, SLT and colleagues.
9 – Repeat
The hope would to be to carry out the questionnaire annually to see how attitudes of our children are changing.
What’s Happening in my enquiry?
I am writing this update on the back of our very successful third Digital Learning Week in the school. Although, it wasn’t without a few hiccups of visitors arriving late, cancelling 30 minutes prior to their visit and one visitor turning up without us knowing they were coming BUT the school was buzzing with enthusiasm and excitement. At the end of the week, I gathered feedback from staff, pupils and visitors and will share some of the results within this update.
Within my enquiry, and from having Digital Learning Week the conversations I have had with children across the school towards the potential careers in STEM have been enlightening. The Digital Learning Week has acted as a catapult within the school with some teachers now more willing to use STEM inside their classroom more.
- All enjoyed Digital Learning Week and felt that their pupils benefited from it.
- “The pupils had the opportunity to interact with a variety of people from jobs in the digital sector and most were inspired, in some way, to pursue a career in the digital field in the future.”
- “I thought that it was great for the children to hear about the uses of technology in various workplaces. The visitors were very good at engaging the children and they answered their questions well. The children benefited from hearing about online safety and data being shared by social media sites etc. This has made them more aware and hopefully will keep them safer.”
- “The content of some of the presentations and workshops were very relevant to the digital world the children live in. The variety of visitors and vocations was also great. Data lab was great and very informative.”
- “They enjoyed the variety of companies/visitors who came in to inform them of the vast opportunities that are out there in this ever growing digital environment. It opened their eyes to things that they knew didn’t exist.”
- “They were able to talk to people actually in these jobs who could explain what they do and give them an insight into some of the tools they use. They were also able to work on the laptops while receiving positive feedback and advice to improve their design.”
- “Being given the opportunity to see what’s available and trying the different things out. Getting the opportunity to see how technology could become part of a career choice.”
- “We enjoyed all of the visitors and learned lots about the many different jobs that are available to us within a digital capacity.”
- “We learnt lots of new things about digital learning. It was very interesting to learn about new technology in jobs and about hackers. We enjoyed having a variety of visitors into our classroom. It has encouraged us to try hard and aim for our dreams.”
- “It was a really interesting week but some of the workshops were a little less engaging than others.”
- All enjoyed the event and would like to be part of it again.
- The children were all engaged, well behaved and asked relevant questions.
What am I not sure about?
The past two weeks I was meant to be collating data to compare against my first set of questionnaires but with the absence rate of the school dropping day by day due to the Covid-19 this has been very difficult. As a result of school closures to the majority of children and with the council moving towards having Hubs, I don’t know when I will next see the children I questioned. Therefore, I have decided to use the wonders of the online classrooms that we have set up for our P4-7 children to ask all children to complete a questionnaire. This questionnaire will serve two purposes:
1 – to see where we are as an upper school in terms of Gender Bias in STEM with the hope that this can inform how we tackle STEM and the Gender Gap in the future.
2 – I will be able to pick out the children that I had originally complete the questionnaire in January and compare their views.
Hopefully, with the collection of the questionnaires alongside the catapult that has been Digital Learning Week we will be able to, as a school, take the next steps towards tackling the Gender Gap in STEM.
How has my recent reading, events and conversations influenced my thinking?
Since my last update, I have undertaken a PG CERT in STEM and have been reading for one of my modules. Much of the reading has been mentioned the gender gap within STEM and the reasons for this. One suggestion to help close the gender gap is that STEM should be available from a young age to encourage the children to explore and gain a deeper understanding into the subjects and their career paths. This can be through learning in the classroom and opportunities to meet those in STEM careers as they are said to provide the best motivation for children.
What’s happening in my enquiry?
Since my last update I have carried out questionnaires with four children at each stage. The results are as follows:
- Total number of children participating: 58 (29 Boys, 29 Girls)
- Total number who like: Science 36, Technology 40, Engineering 26, Maths 26
- When asked which gender do you see the following careers as:
- Engineer – Boy 47, Girl 9, Both 2
- Computer Programmer – Boy 33, Girl 23, Both 2
- Builder – Boy 44, Girl 12, Both 2
- Scientist – Boy 32, Girl 22, Both 4
- Mathematician- Boy 28, Girl 27, Both 3
- Total numbers when asked if they would consider a STEM Career in the future – Yes 36, No 22
- I want to be a teacher
- I want to be a scientist
- I want to be a train driver
- I want to do maths
- I want to be a builder
- It would be fun
- Scientists are interesting
- I’m interested to learn
- I like technology
- I want to know what it feels like
- I don’t know much about STEM
- I don’t know what to do
- I’m not sure what jobs there are
These results have shown that within the sample I have surveyed, in the careers mentioned, they seem them very male dominated. Only a handful of children see STEM careers as both genders.
Since my last update, and through carrying out the questionnaires, I have been able to have more meaningful conversations with the children and pick at their reasons for feeling a job is gender specific or why they don’t want to pursue a STEM career. This project has also acted as a springboard to get myself thinking about what opportunities for teaching and learning do I want to provide for the children within STEM as they progress through primary school.
What am I not sure about?
The stations set up outside of the classrooms within shared areas are not working for this enquiry, as they have not been fully rolled out yet/the children are not engaging. Therefore I am rethinking how I am going to continue the enquiry. We have our Digital Learning Week next week (24th Feb) where we have 21 visitors from the STEM industry into school to work with our children. I feel that this might change the view towards gender specific jobs and can act as a catalyst for further STEM Activities that I can organise to happen in class especially within the upper stages. In regards to the infant department, I will be discussing areas with the staff in charge of the shared area and see how best we can incorporate STEM in the shared area and their classroom areas. I feel that the areas do still have a place within my setting but are something that should maybe be set up at the beginning of a session rather than mid way through the year to have the best effect.
How has my reading, or events, or conversations influenced my thinking?
Since my last post, I have had the opporutnity to reflect greatly upon my enquiry question and my method of carrying out my enquiry. It wasn’t really until the recall day last week that I really started for form a coherent plan of action for my enquiry through discussions with my peers.
What’s happening in my enquiry?
In partnership with the PT at my school, and the pupil council, STEM areas have started to be set up within the middle and upper stages shared areas for the children to access freely. It is through this that I will be setting STEM challenges for the children to participate in through different mediums, for example, laptops, kapla, lego etc. In regards to the early years and infant areas within the school, I am creating lists of potential STEM activities for them to have in their shared areas and classrooms for their children to access as part of their timetable
To gather the data to which I can compare to around March/April time, I am going to choose 4 children from each stage and question them about their current opinions about STEM areas and whether they believe the area belongs to one gender or both through a short questionnaire. This will be carried out during the time that I have with each class throughout the week.
Throughout the course of this enquiry I will be using observations, and discussing with my colleagues their observations of who has been using these areas the most. Is there one area that is female dominated? Is there one area that is male dominated? Or do the children choose a mix of areas.
It is hard to comment on this right now as the STEM areas have not been fully set up but will be by the beginning of next week, with the focus groups beginning then too. It has been really interesting to continue engaging with colleagues both within and outwith my school about the importance of STEM and the exposure to a wide variety of STEM from an early age.
What am I not sure about?
At this point, I am unsure exactly how often the STEM areas in the middle and upper shared areas will be used as this is a new concept within our school to have focused areas. I am also dubious as to whether staffing and timing will allow for teachers and myself to observe who is accessing the areas but equally I was unsure as to whether a tally system for the children to complete when they access an area was going to be completely reliable…