My project changed a lot from last summer. First of all, I found out after writing my project description that I would be teaching all senior-level classes instead of freshman-level. I would still be teaching environmental science, however. My initial project was based on the assumption that my students would begin to see themselves as scientists if I engaged the with project-based learning and allowed them the opportunity to "try on" the identity of various scientists.
While this may have been the case if I taught freshmen, I found my seniors more resistant to adjust their self-identity. In speaking with my students from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, many of them did not waiver in what they wanted to study in college or their future career choices. It could be that this specific intervention occurred too late in their schooling to have a big influence. My students may also just need time to reflect on their experiences this year and next school year when they are selecting their college classes they may take a science class that they wouldn't have taken before because of their experiences this past year.
There are, of course, a few that have decided to pursue a STEM career. One student in particular was inspired by the SketchUp software that he used to design his own dream home. In my One Goal (college preparation) course he has began asking college representatives about their computer science and architecture programs - fields he would have never considered before. One thing that I heard from all my students is that even though they might not pursue science or particularly even like science, the skills that they learned in my class will benefit them in whatever they do. These skills are the 4Cs (creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking) and patience.
Through this process I've experienced first-hand the importance of student voice and agency in the classroom. I wouldn't have been able to accomplish any of this work without the support from my MSUrbanSTEM cohort and the leadership team. They held me accountable for my plans and without them there would have been many times I might have given up or changed my plans when things got difficult. However, the community was there to help me during the difficult times with ideas or encouraging words. While this is my last year in the classroom, I will strive to recreate this community that encourages innovation and iteration in my career as an administrator.