GSTA Presentation: STEM Teacher Leadership

Today I have the opportunity to present for the Georgia Science Teachers Association an overview of the strategies needed to become an effective STEM teacher leader within your school.

See the entire presentation at:

GSTA.STEM Teacher Leadership Milam (.pdf)

GSTA.STEM-Teacher-Leadership-Milam (.ppt)

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Day Four: The TWO Things I Love Most About Teaching

I LOVE teaching. There are specifically 2 reasons that I enjoy my job.

1) STEM Career Coaching

My grandmother used to talk to her grown children frequently about their jobs. Of course she was concerned about family, kids, home, but career has always been important to my family. It’s genetic. You spend SO much time working. Not just the everyday, but across your entire life. It is important to have a fulfilling, enjoyable career because it is a huge part of life.

Many of our students don’t have someone who know much about the STEM in their careers, so I enjoy helping my students think about their options. Careers that require STEM include: doctor, electrician, cosmetologist, radiology assistant, auto mechanic, farmer, graphic designer, photographer, engineer, chef, builder, athletic trainer,…. You get the idea. Everyone uses STEM!

The students who take the hard core STEM jobs …I teach them in AP Chemistry, coach them in science Olympiad, or guide them to become a STEM intern with a local business. If they can narrow their focus in high school, they can get a head start on where to concentrate when they get to college.

2) I love high school kids. I can have regular conversations with them like I would with other adults, BUT high school kids like to have a bit more fun than adults do. And so do I. I like goofing off and being silly, and that works well in the classroom. I just read a great blog post by Heather Hollands and Amy Latinen, and Heather mentioned wanting to “engage all students” this year as one of her goals. Goofing off (in the right context) while teaching chemistry is my way of engaging students. They tend to stay focused a bit more because they don’t want to miss anything.

There is definitely more that I love about teaching, but this will be enough for now…..


Teachers Who Love Teaching Quote Back To School Quotes For Teachers

Day One: My Goals for the New School Year

What are my Goals for 2014-15? I love challenges, changes, and plunging into more projects than a person should tackle. So, my goals will be aligned to my list of commitments for the year. Here is my “To Do” List:

1) I will teach chemistry students using a “MODELING” approach. Yes, I will model, but not in the context of Vogue magazine. One of my amazing colleagues, Dr. Karen Pompeo, participated in an AMTA Workshop in the summer of 2013. AMTA is the American Modeling Teachers Association. She is sharing this methodology with our innovative chemistry team so that we can teach our students to understand how matter behaves based on logic, analytical thinking, and visualization of particle behavior. Gone will be the days of blindly rearranging equations and rote memorization of facts. After three weeks of school, students have already drawn numerous diagrams of particles in (and out of) boxes. They explain, through drawings, how particles behave when they are heated, when they are squished, when they combine with other particles, when they vaporize,…. I am the world’s worst artist, but that plays an important role, because my drawings will never intimidate and are a sense of comic relief, which is an important tool for teaching the sometimes overwhelming concepts of chemistry. Imagine how dreadful it could be for a student to sit in chemistry for 90 minutes without laughing or having a bit of fun. (another blog topic, one day)

2) I will focus my AP Chemistry Course more closely to the Learning Objectives that the College Board implemented in 2013. My AP Chemistry mentor is Adrian Dingle of Westminster High School in Atlanta, GA. I just completed one of his online workshops and have subscribed once again to his teaching resources, which are clear, concise and thorough. He is an enormously helpful and responsive teacher. Read his insightful blog to see that he respects that we all have different teaching styles but that we can empower our students equally well to succeed on the AP Chemistry Exam on Monday, May 4, 2015.

3) I will co-host a Technology Professional Development learning group for the teachers at East Coweta High School (ECHS). My partner from last year, tech expert Micki Byrnes, @mickibyrnes, and I are teaming up this year with one of our tech pioneers Matt East, @eccoacheast, to teach our colleagues new ways of implementing technology. Our topics include Google apps (hangouts, slides, docs), digital storytelling, presentations (Prezi, HaikuDeck), research (diigo),cross-curricular collaboration (Canvas) and all the features of Edmodo. I also hope to contribute manageable ways to incorporate STEM lessons into their classrooms.

4) East Coweta High School will present our first Invitational Science Olympiad Tournament in November 2014. Science Olympiad is arguably the BEST STEM extra-curricular organization available to students. It is the most exciting science competition for students grades K-12. Students are completely immersed into 23 science and engineering fields as they compete against their peers. Science Olympiad is a National Organization, and any school that claims to have a good STEM program, in my opinion, MUST have a Science Olympiad team.

5) I will continue the work on ECHS earning the title of STEM Program Certified School. Our magnificent science department chair Stefanie Easterwood and I have passed the baton to our dear colleague Candice Mohabir, who has fantastic vision and can make progress toward our school STEM goals.

5) I will apply for GRANTS to fund a newly renovated STEM Classroom through Contrax Furnishings. The furniture in my room is outdated. It is a tight, winding pathway for me to move throughout the classroom. This literal maze doesn’t serve our peer grouping or lab experience well. It is time to update and innovate our workspace. It’s not going to be cheap, however, and grant money is the only hope for a new look. I have written and won grants before, but it’s time to break out the big pens to be able to locate the funding for this HGTV-type overhaul. I am grateful for the confidence that our school administrators have in us, the teachers. Innovation leaders Evan Horton and Donald White always encourage me in these new endeavors.

6) I will make a presentation on, guess what, HOW TO WRITE AND WIN GRANTS at the West GA RESA Instructional Technology Conference on Sep. 8 & 9 at Callaway Gardens, GA. YES – I am combining two of my goals, a time-efficient move that I carefully chose. Creating a presentation will inspire me to WRITE the grants for my new furniture project and research all the available funding sources. Making this presentation is also my way of hushing up those teachers who complain that there’s no money for them to incorporate technology. Well, excuse me, Mr. or Ms. “My school won’t buy us anything, so I can’t use technology”, but if you really want to have the technology for your students, then spend a couple of hours writing a grant. Get off your financial soap box, get your tush in front of a computer, and find the money.

7) I will manage my time wisely. Time Management is not my strong suit, but I must work at it if I am going to accomplish these goals. If I am successful, then I will certainly write about it one day. Until then, I am off to reach my goals.


โ€œGoals may cause systematic problems for organizations due to narrowed focus, unethical behavior,
increased risk taking, decreased cooperation, and decreased intrinsic motivation.
Use care when applying goals in your organization.โ€

โ€• Daniel H. Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us