For the remainder of 2015, Pitsco Education will be running a series of blogs showcasing the Teacher Advisory Group (TAG). Four questions will be addressed for each TAG member in the blog series.
Laura Spence currently serves as the STEM Coordinator for Pinellas County Schools, Florida. She has established 152 after-school STEM Academies, impacting more than 3,000 students. During 1997, Laura began her postsecondary education at Rhode Island College, earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in reading from Providence College, and a master’s degree in science from the University of Texas at Arlington.
For a term of three years, Laura served on the NSTA Committee of Professional Development, where she helped to feature best science instructional practices and assessed NSTA’s conference session proposals. Laura currently hosts an award-winning STEM television series on WPDS-TV14
that can also be found on YouTube, Science Rocks Pinellas
, which highlights STEM concepts and events throughout the state of Florida.
In addition to hosting an educational television series, Laura is also a contributing columnist for the local newspaper, Modern Education,
in which she uses her article “The STEM Effect” to address and educate families about current trends in the world of STEM. In 2008, Laura was selected by Pinellas County Schools as the Most Valuable Science Teacher and was recognized for this award during the National Science Teachers Association Conference in New Orleans.
Want some STEM solutions for the classroom? Laura has provided some great tips below.
What is something unique about your classroom?
Serving as the district’s STEM Coordinator, I don't have a classroom, but what is unique about my position is that I was able to create 152 after-school STEM Academies and 10 robotics clubs! Every afternoon I make it a point to visit an Academy to see what amazing things they are working on. These site visits provide me with an opportunity to learn from teachers and students across the district. What's unique about my office space is that I try to display STEM models and products to inspire both myself and visitors – looking at STEM materials always ignites unique conversations.
Provide a best tip for classroom management.
The biggest tip that I can provide for classroom management would be to explore your STEM materials before you share them with students. Exploring materials on your own allows you to think about potential problems, ways to enhance your existing lessons, and ways to make learning relevant to students by connecting their learning to real-world problems and careers.
What is your best piece of advice for a new teacher?
My best advice for a new teacher is to connect to technology. As a new teacher, many times you are given curriculum out of a textbook, and although it can be a great resource, technology makes learning relevant for students. Having students learn about STEM concepts through both print material and hands-on experiences will keep students engaged and wanting to learn more.
What do you hope to gain from being a member of TAG?
As a new TAG member, I am hoping to learn from others around the world so that it helps me to expand my STEM creativity! So far, I have been able to network with others who might have been otherwise out of reach to share ideas and concepts relating to Pitsco products and STEM. It is also a great opportunity for me to work with excited and like-minded people who enjoy talking about and working with STEM curriculum. In a way, it offers me a platform to receive professional development, which is critical in the role that I currently serve.