Who are you? I'm a science teacher at Nevada Middle School and the Middle School Instructional Guide.
I am married to an amazing man. He is an engineer at John Deere and works hard to help farmers increase their crop productivity via GPS. I have two beautiful children. Eli is three and has unending curiosity that reminds me learning and science are innate. Naomi is will be 1 in July. She is strong and determined. I can tell, already, that she will concur the world. Our family is rounded out by our stubborn bulldog (Maddie) and talkative kitty (Gary).
I graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Zoology. My focus was on ecology and organismal biology. During my time at Michigan State, I worked in a laboratory, at Wayne State University, investigating heart cells and the "disappearance" of a vital protein (calsequestrin). I also had the opportunity to intern with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University. During my internship, I decided to pull my applications for veterinary college. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do, but I was sure I no longer wanted to pursue veterinary medicine. Simultaneously, I began tutoring students in English as a second language. I found I really enjoyed helping people understand information.
After graduation, I married James and moved to Iowa. I found a position at the Blank Park Zoo as an education intern. I really enjoyed teaching children about ecology and animals in an informal setting. I, later, joined the Science Center of Iowa (SCI) as a full-time program presenter. I was able to do demonstrations for students and adults about all types of sciences including: chemistry, biology, geology and physics. While at SCI, I decided to return to school to become a science teacher.
At the conclusion of 15 months of hard work, I received my masters of arts in teaching science at Iowa State University. I enjoyed learning about how people learn and how I can most effectively help students understand the world around them. I taught in the Des Moines Public School District prior to coming to Nevada. In Nevada, I had the privilege of teaching 7th grade science for 4 years before taking on my role as instructional guide. I have loved the community, students and teaching staff that I have encountered here at Nevada. I am truly part of a special place!
Why Science Teaching? I love science and think learning through science can promote deep understanding of both science and learning. I hope to inspire students to become citizens capable of making educated decisions and desiring to make a difference in their local and global community.
Sounds great! But How? Since Science is the study of the natural world, we all have experiences and explanations we have developed to account for what we observe. Sometimes those explanations are right on and sometimes...not so much. Our burden (and privilege) as science teachers, is to give students experiences with natural phenomenon that will challenge their thinking. Then, at just the right moment, ask questions to support their new knowledge. You will seldom see me give answers. I believe, given an intentionally planned experience, higher order thinking prompts, and developmentally appropriate opportunities, students can generate accurate explanations of the natural world. I do not see myself as a giver of knowledge. I want to be a tour guide as we explore the world of science together!
Why Instructional Guide? I get ridiculously excited about curriculum and professional development. I love growing with my colleagues as we seek to meet the needs of our students. I actually believe building a new curriculum or planning a PD session is SUPER fun. Weird? Ok...maybe. Despite loving those awesome aspects, the best part of my role is getting to be a coach. I believe, at the core of my being, that coaching is the greatest tool we have to improve ourselves and others.
I hear coaching a lot, but what's the big deal? Coaching starts with the fundamental belief that the individuals we work with have skills...and LOTS of them. This is why, I believe, we start with coaching. Often, your colleague already has the answers within their brain. They might not even need your head at all. They may simply need your ears! The value of being listened to and having your ideas paraphrased back is well documented. So we start with coaching and move to collaboration or consultation only when wanted and needed. Have you ever been in a conversation where someone only proposed solution to something you didn't need solved by them? It is infuriating. Coaching is a solution to that experience.
Stuff I Have Done: Learning, Accomplishments, Awards and Publications:
Presenter at the Iowa Science Teachers Conference (2011, 2012 and 2013)
New Science Teachers Academy with the National Science Teachers Association (2012)
Co-author of an article published in the Iowa Science Teacher's Journal (2011)
Secretary of the Iowa Science Teacher's Section (2012- current)
Secretary of the National Science Teachers Association- Iowa State University Student Chapter (2011)
Awarded the Maitland Simmons Award for New Science Teachers through the NSTA (2014)
Awarded an Excellence in Science Teaching for Middle School by the Iowa Academy of Science (2015)
Authentic Intellectual Work Local Coach (2015)
Cognitive Coaching 1 (2015)
Cognitive Coaching 2 (2017)
Better Conversations with Jim Knight (2017)
National Association of Biology Teachers
National Science Teacher's Association
Iowa Science Teacher's Section
Association of Supervision and Curriculum