Winter break is a time to reset for many, but teachers from across the country – from Alaska to Rhode Island – recently gathered in San Diego for PLTW Core Training, which immersed them in PLTW’s hands-on, collaborative learning environment that challenges them to look at their classrooms in a new way.
In PLTW Core Training, teachers take on the role of a student, engage in in-depth exploration of PLTW coursework, and gain invaluable experience to take back to their classrooms.
PLTW Master Teachers Nancy Tron and John Donley led teachers through the student experience for PLTW Gateway Automation and Robotics Core Training. Tron teaches at Madrona Middle School in Torrance Unified School District in California, and shared that one differentiator of the training is the opportunity to connect with a network of educators across the country.
“In my opinion, PLTW Core Training is different from other professional developments because teachers have the opportunity to dive in to the curriculum and explore before teaching the students,” Torn said. “Participants have the opportunity to work with other teachers around the country and create a network they can utilize for help in the future.”
Donley, who teaches in Weber School District in Ogden, Utah, has completed more than half a dozen PLTW Core Trainings and has been a PLTW Master Teacher for eight years.
“PLTW Core Training is the best professional development I have ever seen,” he said. “It combines pedagogy, practical application, collaboration with other teachers from across the country, and best practices. Teachers are able to experience the course from a student’s perspective, which gives them insights on best ways to teach the class.”
As an educator for more than 15 years, Donley says he has seen dozens of STEM programs come and go, but believes PLTW’s success is due, in part, to the support teachers receive.
“I love how teachers get trained on the curriculum; the curriculum and equipment are standardized to a point, while allowing teachers flexibility [in implementation],” he said.
PLTW President and CEO Vince Bertram visited Tron and Donley’s Core Training classroom in San Diego recently and shared his thoughts on teaching and learning for teachers.
“There are a few things I believe about teaching,” he said. “We are taught, as educators, that we have to be the center of all knowledge. Then, as a nation, we ask students to regurgitate that on a test, which is a gross over-simplification of what we do and an injustice to our students’ learning. We must get comfortable when our students are asking questions which we don’t know the answers to.”
Tron agrees with this and shared that PLTW has significantly shifted her teaching style
“PLTW has changed my perspective on teaching,” she said. “I have learned that I do not have all the answers and that is OK. I learned that my role as a teacher is to facilitate learning instead of giving my students answers. I learned to ask questions to help my students discover the answers on their own.”
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