STEAM Community Trainer Q+A

Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022

Building confidence and expertise in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) is integral to a modern education. Our latest endeavor to increase equitable access to this necessary aspect of education involves a collaboration to train expert, culturally significant Master Trainers and Community Trainers who can work with children from a variety of backgrounds. The purpose of this ambitious project is to grow the pool of these multilingual trainers in Washington County, allowing them to best develop STEAM content for early learning education. Our first pool of applicants completed their training earlier this year, and among those new teachers was Miguel Angel Barrios Linares. He answered some questions for us below to give you a better idea of how the training can impact our region's youth.

How did you find out about the Early Learning Washington County (ELWC) Training for Trainers program?

Miguel Angel Barrios Linares: I first found out by listening to others' conversations. STEAM was a topic I had been interested in but just put it aside. This conversation reignited my interest.

How do you see a multilingual cohort tackling STEM issues in a different way?

MABL: Because I did learn English as a second language in an adult stage, my head bounced back and forth from English listening to Spanish reasoning and then back to English answering in a matter of seconds. For this reason, when I hear English class presentations accompanied by Spanish translations in the background, my reasoning jumps and it's hard to keep up to either language.

-United Way of the Columbia-Willamette believes that multilingualism is a boon to all in our community, but it can bring some struggles when it comes to early learning. By focusing our efforts on increasing opportunities for multilingual students and teachers to thrive, we hope to ensure every child and teacher gets the support they need.

What made you want to sign up? 

MABL: The need of learning more about the appropriate way for teaching under the lens of the Next Generation Science Standards, applied to my students from 0-5 in my own environment. I think that If I can understand the NGSS document used from K-12 then I can better prepare my yearly curriculum, the environment and what to assess for kindergarten readiness.

Did you have an interest in STEAM beforehand?

MABL: Yes, I believe that STEAM gives our young children a great approach to activities that helps to make sense of their world. The STEAM activities keep our kids engaged in the continuous exploration while at the same time provide experiences that provide self-esteem.

Out of all the sessions you attended, which did you find the most useful?

MABL: I found two of them useful. First, When I participated as part of the presenters, it made me feel important and with a great responsibility for everything I share in my part. Second, when we have a great discussion of taking seriously the role of learning with full intention and participation in this paid training that even gives us all the participants an economic incentive. And because this was a selective admission to this cohort.

What is the importance of culturally relevant education in your opinion?

MABL: I believe that we can adapt to what is most commonly accepted, because this is an unspoken negotiation where everyone gives up to some preferences in order to accommodate everyone else.

What did you enjoy learning about most? What do you look forward to teaching the most?

MABL: That the process is the most important factor to consider in teaching STEAM. I don’t necessary say teaching, but I look forward to sharing with other providers the benefits of teaching through STEAM and NGSS lens in Early childhood Education.

Can you share with us your favorite session or moment from the program?

MABL: When my nervousness went away after both of the trainers, Leah Plack and Carolina Cavedon, started developing the class further.

How else can UWCW and ELWC support you and others like you in pursuing STEAM education?

MABL: I think it can be done by inviting current providers who are interested and meet the program criteria. The economic incentive is a great push but not necessary because it can create the wrong idea of incentives.

-United Way of the Columbia-Willamette stands by our commitment to paying participants in further learning opportunities like this and others we host. In order to better themselves, our participants must shut down their businesses, take time out of their days and incur other economic disincentives. By recognizing their efforts and compensating them for their time, insight and drive, we ensure that they are further able to improve themselves and the community around them.

What would you say to others thinking about signing up for this program in the future, or ones like it?

MABL: Find the motivation to include STEAM education into children's daily routines.

I believe that we can adapt to what is most commonly accepted, because this is an unspoken negotiation where everyone gives up to some preferences in order to accommodate everyone else.

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