Local teachers share new expertise at STEM Education retreat

September 20, 2011

By Steven Johnson ’13

On August 27th, recent graduates of the Professional Master’s of Arts in Elementary Math, Science and Technology Education program hosted a professional development retreat, sharing their newfound knowledge and skills with K-12 educators in the Peoria region.  

Megan Hickey, a sophomore elementary education major, was very pleased with her experience at the Bradley STEM Education Retreat.

“I benefited from all the different insights that my fellow group members had to offer, since we were all at different points in our teaching careers,” Hickey said. “I spent most of the retreat in a group that was a mix of Bradley students, including some people who held other professions but have come to Bradley to earn their education degrees, and currently practicing teachers.”

Dr. Kelly McConnaughay, professor of biology and Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was one of the coordinators of the event along with a team of recent graduates from the Elementary Math, Science and Technology Education (MST) program.

“The project is part of Bradley’s graduate program for local teachers who want to become leaders in STEM education,” McConnaughay said. “Part of their training is to gain teacher leadership skills. All the wonderful things we are teaching them in terms of math and science content and skills help them teach it in the classroom more effectively.”

Hickey agreed that what she learned from the retreat was effective and will help her to become a better teacher.

“I really enjoyed myself and now I have several inquiry-based science instruction ideas that I can use in my own classroom one day. Getting to meet currently practicing teachers was great, and it was helpful to hear their perspectives on STEM education and inquiry-based science.”

McConnaughay stated that other local teachers will benefit from learning from the recent MST graduates, who will continue to share their knowledge and skills with their peers.

“They learn how to share what they are learning with other teachers,” McConnaughay said. “They can get training in how one teaches adult levels, particularly peers.”

Hickey found the group work was particularly beneficial.

“Each group at the retreat also designed an inquiry-based lesson plan, which was shared with everyone at the retreat at the end of the day,” Hickey said. “Collaboration is always valuable experience, as well, and it was nice getting to know my group members.”