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The Drive To Progress My Teaching Career

This summer, I attended at STEM workshop at Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, where we built an underwater ROV.

After initiating my new position as the K-5 STEM lab teacher at Harmony-Leland Elementary School, I was on a mission to do more for the 700 plus students in my school. I wanted to do something novel, something that HLES has never engaged in before. This “something” would focus their minds on learning that is fun, engaging, and challenging. There was a buzz about STEM education and STEM certified schools, but I had no clue what it was. The more research I conducted on STEM education, the more I became intrigued. However, to educate myself on STEM education, I knew I had to engage in professional development (PD). The most important factor contributing to students’ success in school is the quality of teaching. For me, PD is the most effective strategy to meet this expectation and, it allows me to take ownership of my teaching career and its continuing development. I use PD as a strategy to ensure that I continue to strengthen my practice throughout my career. Effective PD engages teachers to focus on the needs of their students. Teachers learn and problem solve together in order to ensure all students achieve success.

Presenting at Cobb County's STEMpalooza

Therefore, I continued to hone my skills as an educator for the betterment of my students by attending EdCamps, STEM/science conferences, presenting at STEM-related conferences, and connecting with other STEM lab teachers via Twitter. With twitter, my Professional Learning Network (PLN) is beyond the state of Georgia and includes a diverse group of colleagues whose knowledge far surpasses my own in STEM education and the implementation of a STEM lab. Simultaneously, my PD needs are met and created through my growing PLN on Twitter. Within two years of initiating a STEM lab in my school, I earned my STEM endorsement, completed two leadership academies, won a grant worth over $1,500 from the Atlanta Braves Foundation and the Cobb Schools Foundation, conducted STEM-related presentations at district and regional conferences, and was the top winner for the Cobb STEM Distinguished Educator Award. Additionally, I sponsored several K-5 coding and robotics clubs at my school, including an all-girls coding and robotics club. 

Connecting and building relationships with other educators have allowed me to focus on values and goals geared toward students learning and their achievement.  I hold myself accountable for the entire K-5 population at my school, making sure they receive the best STEM education that I could give them. This feat would be impossible, if it were not for my PLN and continual PD throughout the year. 

Tamieka Grizzle, a native of Jamaica whose family immigrated to the United States when she was 5 years old, grew up in the Bronx, New York. She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism, earned a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Mercer University, and earned a Doctorate of... more