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English Learners and Advanced STEM Courses with Dr. Stephen Fleenor

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Why are advanced STEM classes a good fit for many English learners? What strategies can teachers leverage to maximize impact on diverse learners in STEM classes? How might we remove barriers that prevent many English learners from taking advanced classes throughout their academic careers? We discuss these questions and much more in our conversation with Dr. Stephen Fleenor.

Stephen is a scientist-turned-educator who is inspired by the principles of sheltered instruction and growth mindset, particularly in the service of English learners. In 2014, Stephen earned his PhD in Developmental Neurobiology and sought to empower the next generation of thinkers as a high school science teacher at a Title I school in San Antonio. He has developed innovative approaches to working with ELs and economically disadvantaged students, and has presented his ideas across various districts, as well as at regional conferences. A central component of Stephen’s pedagogy is student ownership of personal growth throughout the school year. This approach has been particularly effective in promoting language and content acquisition for ELLs, and under his leadership his department closed the gap in EL performance on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) in Science.

In 2017, Stephen was awarded the Edgewood ISD District Teacher of the Year Award and the KENS5 ExCEL Award, and went on to serve as a science instructional coach for Edgewood ISD.  In addition to his PhD from Oxford, Stephen holds an M.Ed. in School Leadership from the University of the Incarnate Word and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin.  Stephen lives in San Antonio with his wife, a fellow educator.

During our conversation, we referenced the following books and resources:

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