- Oklahoma teachers are taking advantage of the state education department’s expansion of an externship program that not only increases their skills in STEM subjects, but also puts some extra money in their pockets, according to Tulsa Public Radio.
- State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said in the article that participation in the program, which can pay up to $20 an hour, has quadrupled since it was first offered. One teacher, for example, is spending her summer learning at an oil and gas control manufacturer, and another is learning from the same company how to create hands-on projects in math.
- Teachers say the opportunities also increase their knowledge of career pathways for students who might not plan to go to college after high school.
While many districts are currently updating and expanding their career and technical education programs, strengthening the STEM skills of teachers in the core content areas can also help them link academic lessons to the latest industry knowledge and connect learning to future job prospects for students — as well as the skills their students need to compete for jobs.
The popularity of the state’s initiative also demonstrates that teachers prefer to learn in much the same way as their students — by doing — and reinforces that traditional workshop models of professional development don’t meet everyone’s needs.
A 2014 report from the Education Development Center noted that while there is little research on the impact of teacher externships on students, evaluations suggest that work-based learning opportunities for educators should be combined with ongoing professional development “that guides teachers to use what they have experienced to revisit their learning goals for students and their instructional approaches.”