Professional Growth and Relationships

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When I first heard about, and applied for the Kenan Fellowship, I honestly didn’t know what to expect in terms of classroom impact.  For starters, I didn’t really think I had any business applying to begin with—I’m not a science teacher.  However, since becoming a fellow, I’ve made huge changes in my practice, especially when it comes to collaborating with my peers.

Though this is my 10th year teaching, it is only my second year teaching in North Carolina.  Re-establishing my professional network has been hard, but this fellowship and the practices I’m learning from it are helping.  My fellowship is focused on “Sparking Student Curiosity,” especially in the environment.  As a result, I’ve reached out to and teamed up with science, horticulture, and outdoor-ed teachers in my building and district.  With these contacts, I’ve been able to develop and present resources to other educators through my district that encourage them to get kids outside.  This has led to an invitation to join our district’s Hub Farm Curriculum committee, a group working across grade level and content areas to develop materials and opportunities that utilize the school district’s urban farm and outdoor spaces.  Finally, and most recently, I’ve been asked to present professional development on science literacy, with a science teacher from my building.

This past year, my instruction has changed as well.  I am stepping outside of my comfort zone, and incorporating more scientific research and resources, as well as non-fiction texts.  Additionally, I am working towards developing practices that show students how what they are doing in class will and does directly link to what they can do in the future.  We do a lot more career exploration than I’ve done in the past, and as a result of my externship at the EPA, I’ve grown much more comfortable incorporating professions in STEM fields.  With all of this in mind, there is a lot more I want to do.  Ideally, I would be able to develop an environmental literature course that counts as an English credit at my school.  I also would love to work toward co-teaching a course with a science teacher for a dual English and Science credit.  Being a part of this fellowship experience is showing me how much is possible in my practice, and I’m so excited (but let’s be real, nervous sometimes too) to be pushing myself further into sparking student curiosity.