Principals should support teacher leaders in building partnerships beyond the school. As advisor to my school’s junior chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, I sought to provide students on our math team with more opportunities to compete. We hosted a one-time math quiz bowl in Philadelphia for teams of students from eight other public high schools. The event catalyzed a partnership with the Philadelphia Math + Science Coalition and the Math Forum at Drexel University. Leaders from these two organizations worked with me and three other teachers the next year to develop a more complex series of challenges that would encourage students to explore math as it is connected to engineering and real world contexts. While math is one part of the "STEM" acronym and part of a larger public and political focus on improving schools and ensuring American economic supremacy, math teachers are generally left out of STEM-centered initiatives (beyond more test prep). Schools and districts establish robotics, quiz bowl, and Science Olympiad teams (coordinated by science teachers) or coding clubs (coordinated by technology teachers) to address the need for improved education in STEM. The Philadelphia Engineering and Math Challenge (EMC) opens up engineering principles—usually reserved for science curricula and classrooms—to math classrooms. The Math Forum is hosting an expanded event this year. The EMC emphasizes problem-solving and communication in the Common Core State Standards.
Idea No. 146