This workshop was held in April 2019 at the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice Spring 2019 Convening.
Speaker: Sean Arthurs, Senior Manager of Education Initiatives, National PTA
Senior Manager of Education Initiatives for the National PTA, Sean Arthurs, takes workshop attendees through an activity demonstrating how to create basic circuit boards from Chiptronics. Using the activity as a common reference point for the discussion, Arthurs asks participants to consider the following when thinking about scaling their own programs:
- What are three ways you could use this activity in your classroom?
- How would you scale it?
- What are the obstacles?
“Education is actually probably the hardest context to scale in because there’s so much variety in each setting. From institutional rules, to the administration, to the funding, to the commitment – many of those factors and more vary from place to place based on the setting,” says Arthurs.
With a foundation of understanding built, Arthurs reviews five dimensions for scaling a program, despite the challenges of variety in settings.
- The depth: how good is the program? Is it actually changing people’s minds?
- The sustainability: can you program be sustainable in varied settings? Can it survive?
- The cost efficiency: funding in schools is a big barrier so as programs grow they need to become more cost effective in order to be accessible to all.
- The shift of settings: it has to be adaptable, with core component identified and everything else flexible. You have to be able to move from one setting to another with each of the settings having different conditions. Having overarching core components are critical with flexibility for staff on-site to be the experts of their environment and adjust the program to best suit their setting.
- The evolution: we have to continue learning and refining the program to be better based on what we learn as we scale.
In addition to considering program scale, Arthurs also points a critical part of making any program accessible for students and their families.
“As we consider family involvement and the best way to engage families, my answer is always to be being genuine and authentic,” says Arthurs. “Also, asking families how to best support and communication with them is important. Most of the time they will tell you the simplest steps to get them excited. If we can do that, then we’ll be alright.”
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