The Teacher Tip

Cultivate Your STEM Identity

January 11, 2017

Adapted from: Cultivating STEM Identities: Strengthening Student and Teach Mindset in Math and Science

by Wendy Ward Hoffer


When we save science for Thursday afternoons at 2:00 and then let the reading block run over allowing no time to actually get messy with the lab activity, we communicate a low value for STEM learning. When we keep the math manipulatives on a high shelf and only let students engage with them for brief periods during a structured lesson, we communicate that math is separate from our other work as learners. Why not make friends with STEM and let it leak across your days? In order to model a positive STEM identity in the classroom, try these strategies:

  • Read a book about an appealing science subject
  • Pursue some online math learning
  • Take a class or webinar on computer programming
  • Find a STEM news source, and challenge yourself to read a quick STEM-related article on a regular basis

Catch yourself if you are tuning out when science topics might come up in your world, and instead challenge yourself to tune in. As you stretch in these ways, focus on your mindset, the grit and effort mathematicians and scientists need to succeed. Pretty soon, you will have ample stories to tell your students about how you struggled and persevered--excellent modeling.


To learn more about Cultivating STEM Identities and to download a sample chapter, click here.


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