Michele Chamberlain named state finalist for teacher award
Q: How do you get students interested in science?
Michele: I think the most important thing is to figure out who they are as people, what interests them, and uncover their past experiences (positive or negative) with science education. The relationships I build with my students help me to understand where they are
coming from as learners. Students generally don’t come into 8 th grade science full of passion for science education. I work to help them understand how science influences the world around them, and I share my passion and enthusiasm with them. When they begin to understand that science impacts them on a daily basis, AND they appreciate their own successes, this is when things really get crazy and amazing in the science classroom. It takes time, but it is worth every second.
Q: Do you have any unique or especially successful teaching techniques that help students
Michele: I think it is fair to say that I am not afraid to be a little quirky or silly in order to help students engage. Learning should be fun. I assess and reflect on my own classroom environment by asking myself whether or not I would want to be a student here. If not, then I back up, refocus my efforts, and come up with a plan that really works for my students. I like to play outside the sandbox, so to speak, when it comes to activities and strategies to engage students. There is this folk saying, “If you want to make rabbit stew, the first thing you
have to do is catch the rabbit.” We must, must absolutely be willing to do what is necessary to engage our students so that we can teach them.
Q: What does it feel like to be a finalist for this award?
Michele: It is an incredible honor to be named a finalist, an honor that I want to share with all
of the students who have challenged me to continuously improve. They motivate me and
inspire me. I look forward to each day with them.