Profiles of RADIANS teacher scholars will be posted after they are selected for the 2016-17 academic year.
I have always been incredibly fortunate to have great math teachers. I can remember having truly amazing teachers in elementary school, middle school, junior high, and especially in high school. I was fortunate to have amazing professors like Dr. Chase and Dr. Warshauer on the college level as well! But I realized early on that math was a strength of mine, and I lost sight of that for a little while. Entering Texas State I was a little lost and confused and struggled with deciding my future. I was the first person in my entire family entering college, and it was very intimidating. As my freshman year progressed I found out I was expecting my little girl and from then on, things just fell into place and teaching seemed so logical and natural. I was and am in the process of learning to be a good mom, but learning and teaching go hand-in-hand.
In my world of being a student and a mom, teaching and learning intertwine, but I plan to use that in my favor when I begin teaching. I want to incorporate the love and care in my teaching philosophies while effectively teaching my three-year-old as she grows. It’s easy to see how they overlap, and I am excited to get in the classroom with students that need that kind of impact in their lives. Adolescences are under so much stress and pressure, and I believe I was put on this earth to 1) be the best mom I can be for my daughter, and also 2) be the positive reinforcement for the kids of our future. I fully intend to use my personal title of “Mom” to reach out to my students in my professional title of “teacher.”
The truth is I do not know where I would be without the strong influence of math in my life. My mom has always had a math problem in front of me, and I whole-heartedly attribute my success to her. I am confident I would have found my way to teaching one way or another because I believe education is the biggest equalizer in our society. I want to eliminate barriers and break down social classes by promoting education among all our students in a fair and effective manner.
I realized I wanted to be a teacher while homeschooling my own children. I loved everything about the process. I have two very different children and learning how to meet each of them where they were at was an experience that totally changed who I was. It was the first time I had ever had to think of a subject differently than how I already thought about it. One of my children was better at abstract thinking, so teaching them something like math was pretty straightforward. My other child required math to be related to “the real world”, so teaching them often required creatively re-examining my own understanding of math. It also was important for me to consider what types of learning were most valuable to each child at their particular stage in life. I read dozens of books that spanned almost every viewpoint of children and learning. Essentially, educating my children became the most complex puzzle I had ever attempted. It was exhilarating.
When my children started school, I decided to go back to college and get my degree in education. I started taking classes at Austin Community College without really knowing what I wanted to teach. I had a math professor that had a PhD in physics who pulled me aside one day after class and asked me what my major was. I told her I wanted to be a teacher. She said, "Jessica, you have the mind of a physicist...you should be doing physics." That statement changed everything. It was the first time someone recognized the way I think as being valuable instead of disruptive. I thought to myself that maybe physics really was where I belonged. Without ever taking a single physics course I changed my major!
The math professor wasn't wrong. I took Introductory Mechanics and fell in love. It was the most challenging and wonderful thing I had ever experienced in a learning environment. My mechanics class had Learning Assistants in it and doing physics in small groups seemed very natural to me. Working with other people to solve a problem reminded me of the “puzzle” of teaching my children. The following semester, I applied to be an LA and fell in love with teaching physics. At the end of the first semester, I started doing Physics Education Research with Dr. Eleanor Close. I have been doing research with her for almost 4 years and have had the opportunity to think deeply about what makes people choose physics and stay with it.
While working as an LA I realized the impact I could have as a physics teacher. As a child I attended high-poverty schools, and I had many experience of being shut down or getting in trouble because I had a lot of questions and my teachers wanted me to sit quietly. In elementary school, I loved science. Unfortunately, low-income secondary schools lack highly qualified STEM teachers, and math and science instruction is often focused on memorizing facts and passing tests. When the math and science classrooms of low-income schools are staffed with teachers that aren't sufficiently educated in the content they're teaching, it becomes nearly impossible for students to succeed. Math and science become scary, boring and unattainable. I want to change that for my students. STEM is where the jobs of the future are. If I can help students learn to love physics, maybe more students will become STEM majors and acquire skills they need to pull themselves out of poverty. Exploring math and science and wondering about life should be part of our educational culture. I hope to bring that into my classroom when I become a teacher.
“Science is everywhere”, said Mr. Carrion, my 4th grade teacher. “What do you mean?” I replied. “From the sun and plants outside, to the computers we use, and the air we breathe. Everyday, science is taking place all around us.” My nine-year-old self had my first mind-blowing experience. Ever since then I loved reading and watching anything science-related.
I would want to teach biology or chemistry at the high school level. I have always valued education and its powers to benefit anyone in the world. Doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, education can be used as a tool to get you where you want to be.
In my 3.5 years of being a biology major and wanting to be an educator, I recently met another classmate that shares the same dream to become a teacher. In a science field of future doctors, nurses, engineers and researchers, it’s hard to find other individuals who want to teach in STEM. STEM is highly over looked in day-to-day life but we all use it everyday whether we like to or not.
Teachers play a huge part in society. I remember growing up, I would see my school family more than my actual family at home. I was one of the few who wanted to get up and go to school among my peers. Teachers are role models, support groups, givers, entertainers and much more. I believe that teachers can be more than just people who tell you this is that, they are people who wake up Monday through Friday to share there passion and help you learn something that you didn’t know the day before.
Now, to answer the age old question, “Why are we learning this?”. I would answer my future students with “How does a car work? How does your body process the food you eat? Or how do you breathe? I’m here to help you find those answers and teach you how things work in the world.”
I want to teach science to because I want to bring a better understanding of how things work and have a classroom that is inviting and a safe space. I want my students to know that they can do anything if they put their mind to it. The future of the world will be in my classroom one day and I want to prepare them with life skills and knowledge. I would like for them to be engaged in what I’m teaching and not just waiting till the bell rings to leave. I hope to have as much of an impact as my teachers did on me.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. -Benjamin Franklin
As far back as I can remember I have always wanted to know how things work. I spent a large portion of my free time, as a child and teenager, trying to learn about fundamental chemistry and physics concepts. Of course, I didn’t initially know that what I was trying to learn was considered part of chemistry or physics. I was just curious.
I realized how much I enjoyed teaching and the process of learning as I got to college and helped fellow students with biology and chemistry homework, and eventually tutoring. I knew then, that whatever I may end up working in, I would like to work-in teaching to my job. Pretty much every teacher I could think of not only seemed really knowledgeable in their field, but also had what I considered traits that made them good teachers. I did not think I was capable of actually being a teacher, as so many of teachers seemed natural at teaching and I wasn’t.
As I continued through my college courses, eventually transferring to Texas State and subsequently joining the Physics Learning Assistant program, I realized that teaching was something that I could practice. Working as an LA, helping instruct labs, and doing science outreach at the local schools really helped solidify my goal to become a chemistry and physics teacher. Soon I’ll have my teaching certification and I’ll be able to do what I truly enjoy, teaching chemistry and physics.
Teaching wasn’t always the field I saw myself in.
I was exposed to the realm of teaching my sophomore year when I applied and was hired as a General Chemistry 1 Supplemental Instructor. Just after a year of being a part of the Supplemental Instructor Program, I changed my Biology major to include the Life Science 7-12 Teacher Certification and kept my Chemistry minor. Adding the secondary education minor was the best choice I have made. To be a biology and chemistry teacher is my dream job.
I was first exposed to biology in high school and despised it. I wasn’t the best student, but my teacher made the material dull and boring. It wasn’t until I was in college where I actually learned the material that I fell in love with biology. I love being able to look at the world around us and understand what’s going on. To this day, I cannot go for a hike and not think about what types of plants I’m seeing. I cannot look at an onion without thinking about mitosis.
My goal as a future educator is to implement best practices and have students figure out that science is an open door of possibilities. Science is enticing, challenging, and amazing. I want students to have the chance to see science with an open mind and positive perspective.
I have had many teachers inspire me to become a teacher. My third grade math teacher is the reason I am becoming a math teacher. She opened my eyes to math and made me fall in love with the subject and learning all about math. My fourth grade English teacher cared for each of her students which has made me want to be a role model for my students and be a person they can come to for advice on anything outside of school and math. My high school cross country coach pushed me to reach my full potential and to never give up no matter how hard things got. You are always there for your athletes and students if they need anything whether it be help in history or in life. pushed me to reach my full potential and never give up. My coach built community her classroom and had mutual respect in her class. Each of these women influenced me greatly to follow my passion; teaching math.
Being a teacher is about teaching students the content they need for the specific class but also being a resource, support system, and role model for your students and teaching them life lessons. As a teacher, I want my students to feel comfortable in my class and with me, have fun in my class, and enjoy coming to school because of my class. When I tell people I want to teach Math, I get the question, “Why Math?” When I get asked this question I have a huge smile on my face because teaching math is my passion. I always say that math is so interesting and all around us. Yes, I know the majority of my students will hate math and not want to learn it, but I see that as a challenge to make the content fun so they want to learn more and come to my class. Also, most students don’t realize why they must learn math because they never notice that math is everywhere, and in one way or another they use it every day.
As a high school math teacher, I will be a resource for my students to come to for anything and everything. I want to be there for my students and show them that I’m there for more than just teaching them math. I want to inspire my students to achieve their goals and help them reach their full potential in life. I want my students to know they are good enough and someone cares about them. I want to be more than just a teacher to them. I cannot wait to be a teacher and start making an impact in my student’s lives and hopefully make them enjoy math and school even a little bit more than what they did before they walked into my class.