During the last six weeks all the educational system in my country, Israel, is on quarantine. Schools are closed, but the teaching-learning processes are ongoing through online classes.
For me, like probably most teachers, it is a challenging period. I work as a STEM teacher at a school and also as a STEM teacher’s trainer at the faculty of Education in Science and Technology at the University. Also, I have an interesting role at my school, as an experienced teacher, I provide pre-service teachers’ training and guidance. Once a week, four pre-service teachers from the SEMINAR HA KIBUTSIM educational college come to my class and teach my 7th-grade students for two hours and 9th-grade students for two more hours (four hours in total). My role is to support and help them with their lessons plans and units, I also provide guidance on how to deal with class issues and dilemmas. After their teaching sessions, I give feedback about their teaching-learning process and help them to reflect on their own lessons and on how to improve it.
This process was very structured and clear before the COVID-19 quarantine, but starting this March it became very complicated…There is no teaching at school, teachers learn how to deal with the new reality of distance teaching-learning by themselves, pre-service teachers cannot complete their training at school. Without that training, they are not able to get their teaching certificates and jobs as teachers. My pre-service teachers were very disappointed with this situation. I felt that I needed to do something in order to help them deal with this complicated quarantine situation. Like a person who feels distressed and speaks to a psychologist during hard times, teachers or pre-service unexperienced teachers must have a supportive community as well. The solution I thought of was introducing them to Scientix.
From my own experience as a STEM teacher and Scientix Ambassador for Israel, I know that Scientix is a great international supportive community of teachers, researchers, and educators.
I decided to organize a special training where I would present to my pre-service teachers our great Scientix community. For this purpose, I used SOMR (Scientix Online Meeting Room) and it was great! I was able to explain about Scientix and the opportunities the platform provides while using it at the same time. The platform helps educators organize online meetings and events by using SOMR and its excellent technical support (when needed, the technical help provided was excellent allowing me to have a smooth and beneficial session). My pre-service teachers were exposed to the Scientix project in general, to the Scientix community, to the model of FCL (Future Classroom Lab), Scientix portal, resources, among others… See photos of my online discussion
My presentation was accompanied by a productive discussion about the role of the educator in general and the role of the educator during quarantine in particular. It was very important to me that the pre-service teachers feel safe in general, not only because of the quarantine but that they could feel confident and supported to stick to the field of STEM education. There is a saying that a teacher can feel like a lone wolf when they close their classroom doors. I think that it should not be like that. All teachers should at least be aware of an existing strong and supportive community that can stand behind them. That way, they can feel more confident with their students. I highlighted that there are some layers of support: I support them inside of the school, the school supports me, and Scientix Community supports all of us!
In addition, I also trained the pre-service teachers with the resources from the Next-Lab project and during these days I am guiding them on: how to create good ILSs in Graasp, how to use remote labs and how to create good quality STEM education with the help of many great pedagogical and technological resources.
I am lucky that I have Scientix support for many years and I am very glad that I can share this support with my colleagues and with the next generation of STEM teachers. I hope you and your community can do the same for each other. That way we keep on being strong together.
Author: Stella Magid-Podolsky, Israel Scientix ambassador
Stella Magid-Podolsky is a Scientix and Next-lab ambassador for Israel. She teaches “STEM for all” and Biology in high school; and science, biology, chemistry, and physics in secondary school. Stella has a B.sc degree in Biology, a B.ed degree in Science and Technology Education and an M.sc – Master of Science in Science and Biology Education. She is especially interested in the collaboration between web-based teaching and Biology education with an emphasis on interdisciplinary education. She has two kids with whom she loves to spend time with and in the near future, she plans on starting a Ph.D. in STEM education.
Featured image provided by Shutterstock – See License