In August 2016, Teach First Israel alumni and participants visited New York City for a three-day learning trip focused on professional development in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Each morning, the group attended formal professional development sessions focused on STEM lesson planning at the Relay Graduate School of Education. In the afternoons, participants engaged in a variety of learning experiences focused on how partnerships with universities and professional organizations support STEM.
Among the initiatives the group visited was Columbia University’s HYPOTHEkids’ Maker Lab—an intensive six-week summer program focused on addressing global health issues, where high school students work in teams to prototype and test a biomedical device and develop an associated business plan. They also engaged with staff members of the New York Academy of Sciences to learn more about its Global STEM Alliance—which Teach For All joined in July—and visited the American Museum of Natural History to explore the museum’s exhibits and plan STEM lessons inspired by their content.
“We believe that collaboration with our network partners, such as the Teach First Israel learning trip to New York City, is essential to building out our Global STEM Initiative which aims to support our partners to recruit and develop STEM teachers, and foster alumni leadership in STEM,” said Dr. Janell N. Catlin, Teach For All’s STEM Initiative Director, who organized and led the group’s experiences. “Our goal is to form a global community of STEM champions, and I am excited to see STEM education prioritized across the network.”
"My challenge now is to stay at the level of the dream," reflected Shani Zur, biology teacher, and Teach First Israel participant. "The trip raised a very high bar, both in terms of practical actions and the level of discussions. I would love to stay at this level throughout the year."
In October 2015, Teach For All launched the Global STEM Initiative to address the issue of STEM education inequity. The initiative’s approach is focused on prioritizing STEM education across the network by building external partnerships, to provide STEM training and leadership development opportunities for network staff, teachers, and alumni.
In 2013, Teach First Israel, with the support of the Trump Foundation (Israel), launched a focus on STEM education to address the achievement gap between children from low and high socioeconomic backgrounds in Israel. Led by Dr. Saleit Ron, Teach First Israel’s STEM Director, Teach First Israel’s approach in addressing inequity is grounded in deep support and training of its science and math teachers; many of which continue as classroom teachers well after their initial two-year commitment.