After years in a biomedical research lab I return to school to get a teaching certificate at age 36. The best career change ever! I taught middle school science for 6 years, and then moved to a high school in another district to teach biology and never looked back. I have taught biology in all its forms over the last 18 years from Sheltered Biology (for English language learners) to AP Biology and IB Biology. I created an online biotechnology course for my district and developed a biology course that was career-orientated for at-risk students. If it was biology, I taught it! I also served as the Science District Resource Teacher and as a Science Instructional Coach for 5 years. I developed and taught workshops on inquiry labs and science notebooking to teachers in my district, other districts, and even at the Museum of Nature and Science in Denver. Two years ago I retired from the classroom and became a curriculum developer for the district as a contract part-time employee.
I was a constructivist teacher who relied on a “just in time” teaching style; my instructional block was broken up so that students received critical content and skills closely connected to an application opportunity such as a lab, activity or online simulation. I believe that it is important to create situations where students engage the material, draw some meaning from it, and then get immediate feedback and redirection as needed. I believe that a classroom is a learning community, and I relied on a multitude of teaching strategies that made student thinking visible while holding each student accountable for learning. My last few years in the classroom I focused on developing inquiry labs that helped student build critical science process skills, science notebooking and interactive notes.
The best moments in my teaching career have come from unforeseen contacts with students after they finished their educations and entered the workforce. One student told me that I had changed her life (as she gave me my flu shot), another sent me her graduation announcement from college (degree in biology, of course!), and several have contacted me to let me know that they are now biology teachers themselves. When my state decided to study teaching effectiveness, an email arrived out of the blue from an old student who suggested that they come observe me. The absolute best moment came when I found a comment from a student at RateMyTeacher.com that simply said “Best. Teacher. Ever.” What more can anyone want from a career?
BA in Biology (High Honors) from the University of California, San Diego MA in Information and Learning Technologies, University of Colorado, Denver 75 additional college credits after completing the MA degree.
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