Three of my four grandparents were teachers. Their love of learning and passion for lighting a spark in their students impressed upon me the power that teachers have to change lives and shape the future. As I’m writing this, I am in Jacksonville, Florida, just a few miles from where my grandmother, Rosalie Gordon-Mills, was an educator for over 40 years in the St. John’s County public schools in St. Augustine. Being here reminds me of one of her star students, W.D. McCoy, who with her support and encouragement, grew up to be an engineer and served as a director of the Engineering Mechanics Research Laboratory at a major university.
Teachers play an essential role in helping the next generation of learners develop science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills that will prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow. They inspire innovators and cultivate the creative thinking that will solve the world’s biggest challenges. Through my work with IBM SkillsBuild®, IBM’s signature global education and skilling program, I am honored to connect with educators, as well as partners and policymakers, who are passionate about helping teachers do what they do best.
Teachers have told us about the variety of challenges they face every day, from creating appealing content to keeping up with STEM tools and trends like artificial intelligence (AI) and cybersecurity. Teachers need resources and support that are cost-effective and easy to implement. IBM SkillsBuild shares free resources that are developed with input from teachers, and we partner to provide free STEM training to teachers across the country.
Johnna Walker Jackson, a high school teacher at Compton Unified School District, told us about a student who struggled with core curriculum but excelled when given the opportunity to use IBM SkillsBuild to explore content related to her career interests and to work independently at her own pace. This is a great example of why teacher toolkits are key. Teacher-facing resources (including curriculum maps, lesson plans, slide decks, rubrics, student worksheets and hands-on activities) can help teachers create content that’s appealing and resonates with their students. For these toolkits to be truly successful, we also need to provide comprehensive training on technical and programmatic implementation, such as registration and learner management, as well as courses on how to teach topics including cybersecurity, emerging tech, AI and professional skills.
Technology training can transform lives. With most STEM training, learners often don’t know where to start or think it’s too expensive. Topics and tools like cybersecurity and generative AI are making their way into classroom discussions, so we’re helping teachers connect their students with relevant learning journeys. The IBM SkillsBuild course catalog helps students and teachers explore the courses and the digital credentials available. It provides background and information about each role, the core skills required and details of the learning journey.
Jennifer Lucia, a former teacher who is now part of my team at IBM, saw firsthand how students sometimes struggle to communicate the value of the skills they have acquired. IBM SkillsBuild helps teachers guide students to relevant online learning and equips them with the language to illustrate their knowledge in real-world settings.
Training teachers through collaboration
Another ongoing challenge teachers face is finding training and support that is cost-effective. That’s why we’re excited to be working with the Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM (TIES) to develop a training program to equip hundreds of K-12 teachers with no-cost STEM education and career readiness resources for their students. I’m excited to see the exponential impact that this initiative will have as we reach underrepresented communities in tech.
Whether you’re a teacher, a student, a parent or a job seeker, IBM SkillsBuild provides over 1,000 free courses on technology and professional skills. The IBM SkillsBuild teacher toolkit provides more than 200 teacher-facing resources created with input from teachers, including implementation training. Through IBM SkillsBuild, we continue to progress towards our commitment to skill 30 million people globally by 2030.