Key Elements of Good STEM Practice

Stage: 3 and 4

Summary: COMMUNICATION, RESPECT AND EMPATHY FOR THE INTERESTS AND GOALS OF OTHERS

  • Respect for different departments and no sense of any subject being better or more important or more fundamental than any other: the differences are real and significant, but there are also commonalities.
  • Talk to people in other departments so you know what the differences and commonalities are.
  • Use positive language when talking about mathematics: it is unfortunately seen as OK to dismiss maths as un-cool, pointless, geeky or to confess to being pretty bad at it. This has a very negative impact on students.
  • Build on learning from other subjects, rather than trying to teach things from scratch that students might have encountered elsewhere.
  • Realise that all SET teachers will have to teach maths at some points in the curriculum.
  • Don't assume that the maths is easy for students when it is located in a context where they wouldn't expect to find it.
  • Don't assume that the maths is easy for students just because you think it is obvious.
  • Try to find the hidden gems in any topic area, even if it is not your personal favourite.
  • Be aware that the role of the teacher is as a learning facilitator in many cross-curricular activities, rather than the transmitter of all of the knowledge.
  • It is OK not to know 'all' the answers. In fact, it is desirable to provide contexts in which you do not know all the answers to all possible questions! How else are students to learn how to solve real problems?
  • Always use units.
  • Make yourself aware of differing uses of notation/terminology
  • Make yourself aware of key confusables (e.g. weight/mass)
  • Stress to students that subject barriers are merely a teaching convenience.

Be aware that the mathematisation of the natural world is both subtle and amazing!