- It is important to reflect on who has had a positive impact on your education journey.
- I want to thank the “giants” who have shaped my views of science and education.
- Reach out to the people who have helped you become the amazing educator that you are and thank them!
During the month of November, I tend to reflect on the concepts of gratitude and thanks. In the world of science, we have learned that collaboration with others is what allows us to excel and go further. This is summed up in the words of the great Sir Isaac Newton, “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” We need to be thankful for all of the scientific minds around us and I would like to personally thank those who have helped me along my journey.
My journey into the world of science began with my 11th grade chemistry teacher, Mr. Anthony. He was the first teacher who showed me that science could be fun. He made it relevant! This is not to say that his class was easy. I had to work hard to understand the content, but I wanted to understand it because, for the first time, I could see the content in the world around me. Thank you Mr. Anthony, for helping me believe that I had what it took to be a scientist.
The next influence in my scientific career is my friend, Hope Matthews. She and I met because our children attended the same school. We discovered that we had very similar mindsets about science education and ended up working together to lead informal science education programs. From Hope, I learned how to have fun teaching kids in the outdoors. Again, this was another person who took the “seriousness” out of science. I really appreciated this approach and took it with me when I began my teaching career. I tried hard to make my classroom one of laughter, experimentation, and joy. Thank you, Hope, for showing me how to do this.
Kelly Hemler was an intern who joined me in my classroom during the fall of 2020. What a time for a college student to figure out how the world of education works, right? Even though I was technically her mentor, I felt that I did most of the learning during our time together.
I am grateful for her enthusiasm for science and her ability to form relationships with students. As a new teacher, she had the rare ability to understand the value of relationships with students before diving into the content. Again, Kelly was someone who helped me to reinforce my belief that keeping a fun and safe environment for students to learn and grow was the best way to reach them. Thank you Kelly for all that you taught me. I know that the students in your classroom feel safe, and loved, and are learning so much about the biological sciences![scroll down to keep reading]
Most people in the Teach Better family know who Tim (astro)Stephenson is. He teaches high school astronomy, has a podcast, a YouTube channel, and has authored a book about his science teaching philosophy. Tim goes out of his way to make his content relevant for his students and does it in an engaging, poetic, and genuine way.
I was lucky enough to meet and speak to Tim on a Teach Better Zoom during 2020. Even though he achieved so much in his teaching career, he was still willing to take time to talk to me, someone who was “just a middle school science teacher in South Carolina.” We had a couple of follow-up Zoom calls where we shared lesson plans and strategies, helped each other with things we found challenging, and celebrated successes that we experienced. I want to thank Tim for his contagious enthusiasm for science education and the way he supports science educators everywhere!
I had the privilege of connecting with Becky Schneckser during the 2020 school year when I followed her on social media to see the National Geographic education field science excursions and outdoor classroom lessons. I wanted to pick her brain, so I sent her a message asking if we could talk. She got back to me right away and we had such a wonderful Zoom conversation. Becky helped me to see that just because an idea might not be the norm, doesn’t mean that we should just walk away from it. If you believe passionately about something, and the research backs up the idea, you should push to make it happen. I took this mindset to heart and had such a great year with my students! I was able to create a culture of learning and helped my students develop an appreciation for science that I don’t think would have been possible if I taught with a deficit mindset lens. Thank you, Becky, for helping me to develop a classroom culture that was right for my students.
And, last but definitely not least, thank you to those of you who have read this all the way to the end. It truly is humbling when I realize that people are reading my words and that those words resonate with them. I am grateful for everyone out there who is doing the work to Science Better (and Teach Better, in general!) in their classrooms.
Please be sure to reach out to the scientists that you are thankful for in your life. And while you’re at it, tag them (and me @hollyastuart) on Twitter, and let’s flood social media with positivity and gratitude! By sharing your gratitude, you just might be the one to help another teacher realize the difference that they make in the lives of others. And that will help us all Science Better!
About Holly Stuart
Holly Stuart is the Education Specialist for Foldscope Instruments and former 8th grade science and design teacher in South Carolina. Her passions include finding new and innovative ways to provide access to scientific tools to students everywhere because she knows that when students have access to the wonders of science, they can discover new scientific concepts through inquiry, and learn science by doing science.
In addition to her out-of-the-box approach to teaching science, Holly successfully implemented The Grid Method into her teaching practice and is currently a Teach Better Team Mentor Ambassador.
Holly is married to her high school sweetheart and is a mother to three children. When not working, she enjoys traveling and being outside with her family. Some of their favorite outdoor activities include hiking, running, biking, and gardening. (Holly often brings her telescope, binoculars, and microscopes with her on hikes!) Her indoor hobbies include reading, writing, and learning more about sketchnoting and drawing.