“No more chalks and blackboards,” – Iryna Lemesieva, STEM Teacher tells how the profession has changed today
We first learned about the profession of a teacher in childhood. And when our memories take us back to the school years, the image of a strict teacher at the blackboard immediately appears in mind. But forget everything you knew about the school and the work of teachers – Iryna Lemesieva, teacher and Head of the STEM department at CISC, will tell us about the educators of the future for the EBA Like a pro Project.
What is your specialization and what do you do at CISC?
I am a biochemist by profession, a teacher; I graduated from Donetsk National University. For many years, I have been working at schools, and it is my sixth year at the full-day Creative International School for Children. Here I teach chemistry, as well as integrated courses “Natural Sciences” and “Kaleidoscope of Sciences” (for primary school). I am also the head of the STEM department at CISC _Holosiiv.
What is different about teaching STEM subjects?
The basis of STEM education is the integration of knowledge in various subjects and their practical application in real life. The STEM lesson is usually based on project activities and finding a solution to a real problem.
STEM is important because it relates to every part of our lives. The traditional education system requires repetition and reproduction of proven knowledge, while STEM relies on innovation and creativity as one of its most important pillars. After all, STEM education focuses on stimulating the brain and giving it the freedom to create. STEM seeks to prepare a generation that is science-savvy and competitive in today’s job market. After all, today every profession and life aspect requires comprehensive knowledge in several areas.
Today, STEM as the educational direction is becoming increasingly popular, as the development of technology leads to the fact that in the future the most popular professionals will be programmers, IT specialists, engineers, high-tech professionals. There will be professions that are beyond our imagination today. One thing is for sure, they will be related to high-tech manufacturing at the intersection of the natural sciences. Specialists in bio- and nano-technologies will be in demand.
What skills and abilities a STEM teacher should have?
The teacher plays a very important role in the education of students. Teaching is not just a transfer of knowledge from a teacher to students, it is a way to expand consciousness and change reality. For a student to gain and maintain an interest in STEM subjects, the teacher must act as an informed facilitator when the student does not know how to solve a problem or task. Therefore, it is extremely important that teachers are constantly aware of current trends and achievements in the field of STEM training.
Today it is difficult to imagine a teacher with chalk in his/her hand explaining the material on the board. The profession of a teacher has changed. It is no longer enough to have a thorough knowledge of only one subject, it is desirable to have titles in other disciplines, especially since STEM education is based on this. Teaching the integrated course “Natural Sciences” helped me a lot with this. As the preparation for lessons required knowledge not only of chemistry but also of biology, physics, geography, history, literature, and even art.
Teachers need to have the skills of systematic and critical thinking, creativity, abilities to work with a large amount of information, be communicative and socially active. They need to know the basics of IT and even a little bit of web design. It is desirable to have at least a basic level of a foreign language to work with various online platforms, applications and learn the experience of foreign colleagues.
How does the working day of a STEM teacher look like? What do you like about your work?
Most often, the first half of the day is dedicated to classes at school, consultations for students, colleagues’ lessons, discussion of what has been done and what still needs to be improved. By the way, very often, new ideas for integration or projects are born in communication with colleagues between lessons. And the evening is left for preparation for lessons, a search for interesting information, and it is desirable to allocate time for self-development every day. A teacher who is constantly evolving and self-improving will always stay relevant to the students.
What do I like about my work? First, the fact that I have a touch on the future, I teach children the things they will use in different professions, in everyday life.
In general, for me, the CISC is first of all an atmosphere of creativity, freedom, trust, and support. This is created by a team that makes you believe that nothing is impossible. It also motivates when children are interested, when their eyes are shining, when they come after classes to continue the dialogue about an experiment; when they are charged with energy for new discoveries.
What are the prospects for STEM teachers in Ukraine?
It is important for an educator to be a super-modern person and be able to predict the realities and prospects of the educational process. Today in Ukraine STEM education is given a lot of attention. The Natural Science Education Development Concept has been approved, and its implementation is planned until 2027. This Concept is aimed at the modernization of STEM education, its large-scale proliferation. An action plan for the implementation of the Concept has been published and conferences, methodological seminars, and exchange of experience are being held. But much remains to be done:
- It is necessary that the concept acquires a nationwide scale.
- The professional criteria for STEM teachers need to be determined (higher education institutions do not train specialists in this field).
- The material base needs to be formed.
- Curricula need to be reviewed and updated.
If we say about the level of each educational institution then the STEM education depends on the initiative and personality of teachers, the presence of like-minded people, the support of the administration, good facilities, the ability to learn the experience of colleagues.
We thank Irina for sharing her story of a teacher of the future! It was very interesting to learn about STEM and modern practices in education! Earlier, we interviewed a stress engineer and a voice actor for Like a pro.
🔎 Like a pro is the EBA Project that highlights interesting professions represented in our business community.