As a first year science teacher, I am always looking for advice and ideas to use in the classroom. I have long been a believer in professional organizations – like the National Council for the Social Studies, National Council of Teachers of English, and most recently, the National Science Teacher’s Association. As a member, I receive a monthly journal with lots of amazing lesson ideas, science content, and resource reviews, and I can access additional material on the web – including old journal issues, email lists, and mini science content courses.
Browsing the site earlier this year, I came across an opportunity for new teachers to apply for an award to help defray the cost of attending the National Conference on Science Education, to be held this year in Boston. To be honest, I was not expecting the award. On the application, it directly states that preference will be given to teachers who had been members of the NSTA Student Chapter of their college or university, and to make matters worse, I realized I forgot to send the main information form with my entire application packet and had to send it in a separate envelope. I figured it was a long shot, but why not try.
I was incredibly surprised and honored, then, to receive an email from NSTA, announcing that I had been one of 25 teachers selected for this award. WOW! I can’t begin to share with you my excitement — it only grew after I began browsing the sessions to be held at the conference as well.
Being selected for this award has not only filled me with excitement to travel to Boston and to attend these amazing conference sessions and (yay!) FIELD TRIPS, but it has given renewed life to my drive to continually improve — to gain new experiences, to make connections, and to become a leader in my field.
I have definitely had my ups and downs with education — when I left Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools last year, I thought I would give up on it entirely. I felt like a failure of a teacher, and I wasn’t sure what to do with the career I had spent the last seven years working toward. Teaching at OLCS this year has entirely turned that around, though. I work with an amazing team of teachers, with awesome students, and with administrators that are there for me. I have the freedom and support to meet curriculum standards creatively and to incorporate the authentic learning experiences so important at the middle level. My students have video-conferenced with professors from Penn State Behrend, collected water quality data from Cascade Creek, and conducted an energy audit of our school. They are engaged in independent research projects, investigating original questions and sharing their results through journal-like reports. Some of my students will even share their research at Allegheny College’s Creek Connections Symposium in April. I am lucky to work at a school like OLCS, and the culture that our teachers, students, and administrators have created has been a huge factor in my success.
I look forward to what’s to come, and I can’t wait to share it all with you!