The 2023 cycle for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching for 7-12 math and science educators has opened.
This year the deadline is February 6, 2023 at 11:59 PM EST. Please note the early date and time deadline.
What is PAEMST
The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teachers, or PAEMST, is the highest award that the US government dedicated to math and science educators. It was created by an act of Congress in 1983.
Who can apply:
PAEMST awards K-6 educators in even years and 7-12 educators in odd years.
Educators can nominate themselves or be nominated by someone else. In 2019 I was nominated by American Modeling Teachers Association’s Jane Jackson and in 2021 I was nominated by 2019 National Awardee Jeremy Secaur.
So what do you get if you win:
- A certificate signed by the President
- A trip to DC filled with incredible experiences, speakers, and networking
- $10,000 (not for your school, for you!)
- a cohort of amazing educators
Why should you apply:
I mean, who doesn’t want to be recognized as one of the best science or math educators in the country? It’s a pretty big deal! Most applicants don’t become National Awardees, so why apply? The process itself is eye opening and incredibly valuable. When you are busy day to day in the classroom and with family responsibilities, it can be hard to always spend the time you want to reflect. This process makes you closely examine what you do in the classroom, how your choices impact student learning, the ways you could improve a particular lesson and your teaching as a whole. I learned to get past my discomfort at watching videos of my own teaching and look for my strengths and then use my critical eye to make myself better. Quite frankly, it was some of the most important and impactful professional development that I’ve done.
- Information about you, your school, and ways to confirm your eligibility.
- Your primary responsibilities have to be in the classroom not administrative
- This is limited to 2 pages. Consider saving and uploading a PDF.
3 Letters of Reference
- One must be from your principal or other supervisor.
- If you feel that your direct administrator doesn’t know your strengths as well as you would like, consider giving them some ideas of your classroom process and your teaching philosophy. Invite them into your classroom. It’s also a good time to start being extra friendly with them.
- Your other letters should be people who really know you. It could be a colleague from your school or someone you work with in another capacity. In 2019, Teresa Marx, the person with whom I started STEMteachersMassBay, wrote a glowing letter. In 2021, Jeremy Secaur, who led workshops for STMB and worked with me in designing and teaching an Introduction to Modeling Instruction course wrote a letter. I also included a letter from a colleague with whom I worked closely in pedagogy, even if not with content. These letters can help you feel better about your teaching as you navigate this process.
- While the video itself isn’t scored, it is an integral part of your lesson that you analyze. Choose a lesson carefully that highlights your teaching, student engagement, and is easy to analyze. Consider recording the same lesson multiple times or with multiple classes in order to get the best video. Some teachers have even had the person recording come in multiple times in order for students to become comfortable with cameras in the room. During the height of the covid pandemic, we were allowed to record a virtual class which was simple on zoom. Read the instructions carefully because over the years they have changed. Currently they allow you to have one break in it, however it must all be within the same lesson. You may not submit a video that has sections from multiple classes or class periods.
- If your video includes a laboratory experiment or demonstration, make sure all safety precautions are taken.
- You will need to watch your video even if it makes you uncomfortable. You will learn a lot from the process.
- Upload the video before the deadline to make sure that it uploads correctly. People have been known to have hiccups with submission, so be sure to build in extra time.
Dimensions of Outstanding Teaching Written Response
- This is the most time consuming piece and most important part of the entire application. You will have to analyze your teaching and student learning in detail. There are 5 dimensions of learning and each dimension has three prompts. Basically, you are writing 15 mini essays with a 27,500 hard character limit including spaces. You will be unable to submit the application if you are over the character limit.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to write this because you will need a substantial amount of time to thoughtfully analyze your teaching and your students’ learning. The reviewers will also be able to tell the difference between an application that was rushed and one that was thoughtfully written and edited. Write your drafts in google docs or elsewhere so it’s easy to edit and upload when you are ready to submit.
- ADDRESS THE PROMPTS. Just as you expect your students to answer the questions that you ask, the reviewers expect you answer the prompts.
- Pay attention to the sections that are worth the most. Dimensions 1 and 2 are usually worth the most, so spend most of your time on those.
- Think about the difference between a misconception and an error. Often teachers confuse the two and their application will suffer because they write about errors instead of misconceptions.
- Have multiple people look it over. I was fortunate to work with friends who were experts in content and with writing.
- Specifically reference moments in your video and time stamp them. Yes, this means that you actually have to watch the video of your teaching and not just upload it.
- Sign up for the mentor program! This is someone who was a national awardee from your state and will help you succeed.They will also look at your video and writing with a critical eye.
- Reference your supplemental materials and reference in your document. Remember that the references themselves take up characters. I abbreviated my references such as (SM 3) for supplemental material 3 or (RM 21) for reference material 21.
- Writing Tidbits
- Avoid using words such as very, that, really, just - they take up too much space and don’t clarify your writing.
- Get an English teacher friend to help with this part!
- Only use one space after a period. This might be obvious for some of you, but for some of us teachers over 40, we learned 2 spaces after a period.
- This is a way for you to show the reviewers what you do in the classroom. Once again you are limited to a maximum page length, I believe it was 5 pages in 2021.
- Start taking pictures of cool things in your classroom ASAP. You never know what might be useful.
- If you have an iPad, consider uploading your images into the Notability app where you can annotate with what you want to comment.
- Reviewers will NOT click on links to anything, whether it’s a blog, your website, any publications, etc. Show them.
- I’ll be honest, I don’t know how much they look at all your references, but I included an APA formatted list with 20 different references that showed how my teaching was grounded in research based pedagogy. My references included articles from the Journal of Chemical Education, ChemEd X, books on cognitive science, and even my own state frameworks.
When you are ready, hit submit and make sure to download a copy of all submissions just in case.
Information about being a state finalist can come as quickly as a month after applications are due. If you have been selected, you have about a week to complete an addendum with additional supplemental materials.
Then, it’s a waiting game until the White House announces the national awardees. As I write this post in August 2022, the 2021 national awardees haven’t been announced.
It is a long process, but I learned so much about my teaching and about my students. Even if I don’t become a national awardee, I’m so glad that I applied and I know that I’m a much better teacher because I did. I encourage you all to apply and I’ll be there to help anyway I can.
Nominate yourself or nominate someone else! https://www.paemst.org/page/home