Educators – It’s Thinkery time!

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EdExchange is our signature professional development program for educators in Pre-K through 5th grade. It’s a multi-month commitment program where educators receive up to 18 hours of STEAM based professional development, followed by classroom support by a Thinkery staff member the following semester for 6 to 8 weeks.  We’ve partnered with over 100 educators across the Austin area and seen over 2,000 kids since the program began. What makes EdExchange different is that we work individually with each educator based on what they want to integrate into their classroom.

It’s also known as “Thinkery time” if you ask any student in our program, as they proudly wear their laser cut nametag made in-house by our staff. They’re our future thinkers, inventors, designers, or anything else they want to be.

Interested in applying, but curious to know more about the program? Learn more about the program through the staff who are the heart and soul of the program.

Cody Phelps, School & Technology Content Specialist

I love every time I walk into a classroom. From the first time in a new school, where students only recognize the red Thinkery shirt I’m wearing, to the last week in a semester, kids are always excited to try new things and engage with another. This role allows me to interact with the community in ways I couldn’t inside the museum’s walls, especially since we’re often in areas far away from central Austin.

Collaborating with teachers on new, exciting activities is another part of the job that I really enjoy. This session we worked on a project where students had to bring empathy into the design process. Students interviewed each other to find what problems others faced in school. These problems ranged from accessibility issues to lack of supplies. After brainstorming solutions, they were able to create meaningful and personal solutions to their problems.

 

 

Jesse Mesa, School & Technology Content Specialist

I often say how two days in this role are never alike. With EdExchange we are given so many opportunities to make an impact in our community and those in it. Whether that is being given the chance to serve a classroom at a new campus for EdExchange, returning to campus for a third year with a new educator, or taking advantage of opportunities to rapidly develop new activities, our work always translates into the community. While the ‘meat’ of our work is in the classroom and hands-on with the student, the work that goes into preparing for those visits can be just as gratifying.

This year I had the chance to return to a campus we have visited many times with an educator I have previously programmed with. Except for this year, she challenged me by wanting to do something new for her class, so what new thing could we do this spring? Recently at the museum, we have been developing, building, and utilizing new physical exhibit/activity components. The educator at this campus expressed interest in exploring puppetry with her class, and by chance, we just finished building new light projection screens for shadow puppets. Thanks to that good timing, we were able to try these new screens out with students right in the classroom, while gaining in the moment feedback from the educator on how well they worked for our activity. After being at the museum for three years, it is extremely gratifying for me to have moments like this where I can take something I previously learned, apply it to a project, and then utilize that project for the community.

 

Karen Wylie, School & Gallery Education Coordinator

As informal educators, an understated part of the open-ended, inquiry-driven learning that we do is… letting things happen, and letting things go wrong. (Or at least, “wrong” in terms of our activity guides and lesson plans.) So, when students recording a poem in Scratch discover the voice effects and transform into EVIL ROBOT VILLAINS with comically garbled voices… love it! When a cardboard automata project takes a sharp left and becomes a tiny foosball table… bring it on! One of our goals in EdExchange is to build creative confidence in our students to take risks—and these low-stakes, goofy risks are no less valid for learners who are becoming literate in new types of technology and growing into thoughtful 21st-century learners.

Moments like these make me realize that one of my favorite ways that I’ve grown as an educator through teaching in EdExchange is learning how to let students take total ownership of their learning. I’ve worked intentionally to grow specific teaching skillsets: embracing mistakes as part of the learning process, supporting learners as they work through problems, and fostering the unexpected. Our team first practices these skills in our EdExchange professional development workshops. Are you building your first paper circuit… ever? We’ll come to ask you some guiding questions, we’ll encourage you, and we’ll show you how to use a multimeter… but ultimately, our goal is to show you that we have confidence that you’ll figure it out. Modeling these teaching practices for our EdExchange educators not only gives them a preview of the way that we will be teaching their students but also encourages them to incorporate these same strategies into their teaching practice, in ways both big and small.

So, come take some risks & learn something with us in EdExchange! We can’t wait.  Applications are now open for the summer! 

Thinkery’s EdExchange program is generously supported by:

 

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