3 reasons for STEM professionals to go back to school for an MEd

The demand for science, technology, engineering, and math teachers continues to grow, with many older teachers retiring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has lead professionals across STEM fields to consider making a career change to teaching. Your experience as a STEM professional gives you the subject matter expertise that places you in a position to excel as a teacher.  While it might feel like going back to school again to learn how to teach is unnecessary, evidence suggests otherwise. In 2008, education professors Jeanne Grier and Carol Johnson published a study on these career-changing STEM professionals, using both qualitative interviews and a review of data from previous studies. They concluded that career-changers who complete credential programs feel more prepared to teach, that their students have more success, and that the perspective they bring to the credential program benefits their younger classmates.

Here are three ways that enrolling in a Master of Education in STEM Teaching benefits STEM professionals looking to make this career change:

You develop a teacher identity.

While mastery of your subject matter is important, teaching requires a different set of intellectual muscles that normally aren’t developed in professional settings. Studying education at a graduate level will build your classroom skills and confidence, giving you a teaching identity beyond a strong knowledge base. Grier and Johnson even found that career-changers’ personal love of their subjects motivated them to make STEM more exciting for their students, and that their professionalism and ability to consider issues from multiple sides were an asset when managing a classroom. By integrating their workplace skills with new skills, career-changers develop unique teaching identities which their students will benefit from.

You learn to appreciate the students who are not as “geeked” to learn STEM as you once were.

Having made the choice to pursue a career in STEM, you are probably quite passionate about math, science, programming or your field of choice and were intrinsically motivated to pursue advanced education and professional experience where you were surrounded by peers who share this enthusiasm. But in the classroom, you will encounter students who may not be so interested in the STEM material that you’re teaching, and some may even feel discouraged about school altogether. Engaging these students presents a new and rewarding kind of challenge that you don’t learn to tackle from professional experience alone. In graduate teaching study, you will learn to go beyond the textbook and relate STEM content to your students’ own lives and interests— exposing the value of STEM to kids who are not as excited about STEM as you were. Your experience in a STEM industry serves as a real-world example of how students can turn their learning into a career.

You master some proven classroom methods and strategies.

Graduate education programs integrate shadowing and classroom placements that build real-world experience in addition to what you learn in the classroom. This is an opportunity for prospective teachers to test out strategies and seek feedback— and learn by doing. Classrooms can be unpredictable, but the theoretical and practical preparation you receive in a teaching credential program readies you to adapt to any situation. Grier and Johnson explain that this preparation shows up in the data, as “studies have indicated that those (career changers) who also complete credential requirements are more likely to remain in teaching and have students with higher test scores.”

The Carlow University Master of Education in STEM also includes a STEM teaching lab for students and offers a multidisciplinary, integrated, collaborative and innovative approach to teaching in line with 21st century pedagogy. There, future educators master the techniques and technologies necessary to prepare today’s students for success in a world that increasingly demands STEM proficiency. The Carlow Noyce Scholar Program offers up to $18,000 in scholarships for Master of Education applicants who commit to teaching STEM in a high-need school.

Education graduate students at Carlow University have the opportunity to specialize in one of seven areas: Art Education, Online Teaching, Dyslexia, English as a Second Language, Autism, STEM, and Early Childhood Leadership. With an emphasis on curriculum design, graduates leave ready to make an impact as thoughtful and skilled educators.

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