#170 – The Future of the Educational Landscape: CTE, STEM, and CS, with Ty Stevenson

Unpacking Education March 29, 2023 35 min

This episode was recorded live at the 2022 AVID National Conference in Orlando, with special guest, Ty Stevenson, Product Manager at AVID Center and Project Manager of the AVID/Code.org Regional Partnership. Ty helps us unpack a vision for the future of education, which includes career and technical education (CTE); science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); and computer science (CS). We discuss the importance of exposing students to these career possibilities at a young age and helping them develop related skill sets.

Read a transcript of this episode.

Paul Beckermann
PreK–12 Digital Learning Specialist
Rena Clark
STEM Facilitator and Digital Learning Specialist
Dr. Winston Benjamin
Social Studies and English Language Arts Facilitator

The skills you need to program are the very same skills you need to be successful in anything. . . . Students are going to start learning younger, so they will start understanding better, using their young imaginations, and then coming up to change the world as they grow up with all of these things that to us all still seems like the future, but the future is not that far away.

Kiki Prottsman, educator, author, and leader in computer science education

Making a Commitment to Personalization, Skill Building, and Possibility

Ty challenges us to think about where we choose to spend our time, talent, and treasure. What do we value? Where do we commit our resources? Do the answers to these two questions align?

To make real change in our schools and reach more students in meaningful ways, we must commit to doing the hard work. Ty says, “To have success . . . you need to roll up your sleeves and get after it.” He recalls the words that his father told him, adding, “Things worth having are hard. They take work.”

Can we reach more students with our work? Are those challenging students worth it? What are we willing to do? Ty emphatically believes we can make a difference. He talks about the payoff from investing in our students. He says, “When they have that a-ha! moment, you’re there for it. When you can celebrate with them—and you can get excited that there was that breakthrough and you got to be a part of it—that is work worth doing. It’s hard. It’s worth it. This is worth it.”

In this episode, we discuss what the future of the educational landscape might look like. We discuss the role that personalization can play as well as the importance of exposing students to career skills and opportunities. Students need to be able to see themselves in a career to believe that it’s possible to achieve it. Part of this work involves infusing CTE, STEM, and CS into the school curriculum to open doors for all students.

The following are a few highlights from our conversation:

  • About Our Guest: Ty is a Product Manager at AVID Center and Project Manager of the AVID and Code.org Regional Partnership. He has been a teacher, worked at the university level, and worked for LEGO®. He joined AVID in 2018 as a Learning Designer for the AVID STEM Academy.
  • More Personalization: One of the focuses that Ty sees in the educational landscape of the future is increased personalization. As he reflects on IEP meetings he attended as a teacher, he asks, “Why doesn’t every child have an IEP? Aren’t we all individualized learners that have individualized needs?” With improvements in technology, many of the barriers to this level of personalization have been reduced or eliminated.
  • More STEM, CTE, and CS: “I think there’s going to be a call for computer science, technology, and STEM across the disciplines,” says Ty. “I think we’re going to see more and more that those are going to become foundational disciplines that our kids are going to need for the jobs of the future. You’re going to see more integration between STEM, CS, and future-driven skill.”
  • Starting Younger: Ty uses a sports analogy to make the point that we must start with our youngest students if we want to make significant differences in education. Just like a sports team would be behind the competitive curve by starting in seventh grade, students who are not introduced to STEM-related experiences at an early age may be left behind in regard to career opportunities. In fact, Ty reminds us that students start to subconsciously self-select career fields by ages 10 or 11.
  • Making Change: Ty suggests that we start by asking several questions: “What are your needs? What can we design and develop that’s gonna make the learning objective or outcome that you’re pursuing possible for you? How willing are we to make the investments and sacrifices to bring that to bear for all students? At the end of the day, personalization means effort. I think it means sweat equity. I think it means thinking outside the box and thinking about problem-solving in a different way.”
  • Matching Goals to Effort: Ty challenges us to think about, “If personalization and that IEP-for-everybody mentality is a thing that we really truly believe in, and care about, and don’t just want to put it on the shelf, then our investment of time, talent, and treasure should be consistent with that belief.” He adds, “I think with the technology available to us today, there are fewer and fewer excuses for why that can’t be done. I think the resources are out there. It’s where we choose to invest.”
  • Matching Passion to Purpose: Being exposed to career opportunities at a young age can open students to potential passions that they might otherwise not consider. In fact, seeing oneself in a career and believing it’s possible is a big part of pursuing careers in STEM and CS.
  • Seeing the Possibility: Ty talks extensively about the importance of seeing careers as possibilities and seeing oneself in those positions. This was one of the purposes behind the AVID STEM Academy he helped develop. He says, “It’s to develop belief and a self-awareness and confidence that this is possible for me. I may not have grown up in a family or an environment where I see people like me doing that thing, but I believe I can do that thing. I’ve just been exposed to curriculum or training or an opportunity where I can now see myself as that thing. And now, I believe I can do it. That is what we find is the game-changing opportunity that we can do a better job of fostering.” He adds, “Modeling, self-belief, seeing myself in somebody else’s experience is absolutely crucial. . . . Do our students see ourselves in these jobs that are available to them, and do they think it’s possible? Do they think they have the opportunity or even the ability? What are we doing to purposefully create those environments where they can have that vision?”

Guiding Questions

If you are listening to the podcast with your instructional team or would like to explore this topic more deeply, here are guiding questions to prompt your reflection:

  • What realities do you currently see in day-to-day life that were once simply science fiction?
  • What is the importance of personalization in education?
  • How might you create a more personalized learning experience for your students?
  • Why is it important to expose students to computer science, STEM, and career and technical education?
  • How can you help your students see themselves in technical careers?
  • Where do you invest the majority of your time, talent, and treasure?
  • Do your efforts match your priorities?

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