A Teacher's Perspective
My participation in the Regional Teacher Community provided a sustaining focus for me this year as I made plans for authentic inquiry for my students in the spring. I engaged with colleagues that I’ve never met to hear what their aspirations and plans involved and how we can collectively support one another and develop as professionals with the help of the cohort; specifically to network to share and access resources and to broaden our thinking and problem-solving to achieve our conceptions of what authentic inquiry can look like for students.
For me, the RTC has been a validation of the effort it takes to teach through authentic inquiry projects. I greatly appreciate the funding of everything from subs, mileage, equipment money and grant funding that all enhanced what I was able to do for my students. The RTC has also been a supportive audience indirectly for the student work and for me directly as an educator. It is important that we educators renew ourselves through collegial dialogues and celebrations as they motivate and sustain us, and the RTC filled that role too.
It is easy to become isolated without a structure like an RTC, especially for small schools and small districts. It’s important to organize regionally, as that is the most practical structure beyond our schools and districts. The facilitators of the RTC have been EXCELLENT and I feel fortunate to continue with the Mid-Coast RTC. Thank you for a thoughtful and productive year of support.
Our guiding vision is to support the growth of STEM education in the state of Maine by bringing educators together in regional teacher communities (RTCs), where they can learn from and support one another by sharing resources, ideas, and experiences. Since launching in 2016, we’ve grown and sustained RTCs in five regions: Western Maine, Midcoast Maine, Hancock County, Washington County, and Aroostook County.
Each RTC is co-led by two local lead teachers, and RTC statewide launch events occur every year. Throughout the year there are multiple opportunities for teachers to collaborate. Whether through in-person meet-ups after school, virtual get-togethers, or annual statewide launches, teachers have multiple opportunities to learn and share better educational practices, resources, and ideas with peers. These meetings also allow for teachers to engage in ongoing reflections about what practices have worked well or which practices could be improved upon.
I have found meeting with local science teachers to be inspiring and everyone is very encouraging. I have been teaching for over 30 years and these meetings seem more beneficial than regular workshops or other professional development training I have had.Kelly Robbins Medomak Middle School Teacher
We seek to ensure that RTCs persist through time, because developing better STEM education practices is inherently a long-term effort. Needs will change, as will our understanding of best teaching practices. Linking networks of teachers together will foster the exchange of STEM professional development opportunities, educational resources, and best practices and thus increase local capacity to respond to changing educational needs.
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