Mrs. Kristin Whalen is a PLTW teacher who has earned credits in Introduction to Engineering Design (IED), Principles of Engineering (POE), App Creators, Medical Detectives, and Automation and Robotics (AR). Kristin’s hobbies include spending time with her husband and one-year-old daughter, listening to podcasts, running, and trying new foods.
In two summers, I went through five Core Training classes and thought I would share three quick tips I have learned along the way.
1. Take (organized) notes.
If you have taken a Core Training class before, then you already know this. If you have not, be warned: In two weeks’ time, you can literally drown in information. In the fast-paced environment, retention of all the details is somewhat impossible. You will grasp the big concepts, but many of the seemingly insignificant details seem to be lost in the shuffle by the time August rolls around.
Take notes. Start a document and just make a bulleted list of everything your Master Teachers say. My notes document was so nice to reference as I was planning for each unit; it really helped me retain many of the tips and tricks from my Core Training teachers!
2. Make connections.
I see many people come into Core Training classes, put their nose to the grindstone, do the work, and never look back. I am sure they complete the class just fine, but they are missing one essential component of teaching PLTW: community. Building lifelong friendships and making connections with people who are in the same boat as you can exponentially benefit you during training, as well as in the future. In class, you end up building on each other’s strengths and being supported in your own weaknesses. Outside of class, you have people to help you unwind after a long day – enjoy a beverage in the lobby of your hotel or visit a local restaurant for dinner. Let your guard down, make friends, and help each other out!
3. Take pictures.
This is an easy one. Make a folder on Google Drive or your computer. Anything your teacher shows or that you build/create, snap a photo. Make sure to label them and keep them organized. You will be overwhelmed with documents, and the last thing you want is not to be able to find or access something that may be helpful. It does take some more time from your already-busy days, but in the long run it is worth it! You will be thankful when, seven months later, you are trying to build a robotics testbed and have something to reference!
Along with the second tip above: Build community and take pictures of others’ work, as well! Fellow students are almost always willing to share!
If you have never been to Core Training before – or maybe it has been awhile and you are just going back – remember to lean on your classmates, enjoy the experience, and take a deep breath. You will get through this!
You can follow my class on Instagram or Twitter using the handle @PLTW_Whalen.
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