Developing Workforce Skills in K-12 Classrooms: How Teacher Externships Increase Awareness of the Critical Role of Effective Communication Bradley Bowen
Bowen, Bradley D.
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This study investigates how participating in a teacher externship program increases the awareness of how effective communication plays a critical role in an industrybased environment. It also studies the teacher participants’ commitment to changing their classroom practices as a result of acquiring this awareness. The program of focus, the Educators in Industry: K-12 Externship Program, is a 4-week summer work experience for K-12 educators in an engineering, design, or process-driven work environment, coupled with collaborative reflective practice. Participants also take three credits of coursework split over the summer and fall which requires them to design and implement classroom activities based on their externship experience. In this qualitative study, various forms of data were transcribed and analyzed using a thematic analysis approach. The results provide empirical evidence that teachers who participated in the teacher externship program developed a deep awareness of the importance of using effective communication in the workplace as well as a commitment to redesigning their classroom practices in order to engage their K-12 students in communicationfocused learning activities.