For me science is a verb and an adjective, as well as a noun. Anyone can learn with the right tools and there isn't always one right tool for the job. I'm all up in those brain folds, probing around trying to help students enjoy the pain and suffering of putting their efforts toward a job well done. After all, I was a middle school science teacher and, at times, everything is pain and suffering, but as Friedrich Nietzsche said, "What does not kill me, makes me stronger."
Inquiry is essential to any science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) lab so students are the captains of the ship. They must foster collaboration, ask probing questions and challenge each other's questioning, and constantly pursue knowledge for the sake of human kind. Messes are acceptable in my lab and so is failure, hence the subtitle of this site, “Science is the Best Mess”. The only caveat I provide is lab safety. Lab work should take into account the health and well-being of all those involved, so smear the glue on the paper and not in your eyeballs please. Thank you.
I reassure students that they will survive this time and learn to love it in the process. Their brains can be compared to the wonderful metamorphosis of a butterfly. As the caterpillar, students are hungry for knowledge devouring everything they can sink their mandibles into. When they enter the next stage of development, their brains turn into a beautiful chrysalis that houses the "brain soup" inside. Their individuality is still there but just in a sea of molecules swirling around trying to reshape its identity. But when that transformation occurs, a triumphant, yet delicate creature emerges. It takes time for that creature to make itself strong. With a little help from the people around them, those beautiful creatures will pass on the strength to future generations.
I am a fierce advocate for educating teachers the way we want teachers to educate their students. Teacher preparation and professional development is essential for being able to survive as a teacher. They should be as instrumental in their own professional development as they are in their students’ learning. I strive to be as enthusiastic for adult students as I am for school-age students. As a researcher, I see the importance in empowering teachers to effectively use qualitative and quantitative data to inform decisions they make in the classroom. We must lift each other up and collaborate to help each other grow, and ultimately help students.
Teachers should also feel they are in a safe space to fail. Students should even see teachers fail and how a teacher models their response to failure being ok. The acronym of F.A.I.L. being the “first attempt in learning.”