Stephanie Kawamura is an elementary teacher in Colorado who has learned to spark more lively classroom discussions and has never had more fun teaching science. Samantha Wilson is a high school biology teacher in Kentucky who has perfected the art of helping students make sense of new science ideas without giving away the answer. Eula Kador is an elementary teacher in Louisiana who thrives on creating a classroom environment of life-long scientists.
Their impact is evident in their students’ engagement and achievement in science. Today, they are all confident and effective science teachers. But they haven’t always felt this confident and effective.
To get here, it’s taken a whole new set of teaching strategies. It’s taken time invested in observing and analyzing what these strategies “look like” in action. It’s taken STeLLA.
Spotlight STeLLA Story
High school biology teacher in Louisville, Kentucky
The two biggest changes that I’ve noticed in my teaching are my questioning strategies and student buy in. STeLLA taught me the importance of asking good questions and knowing when to challenge my students without handing them the answers. I find that my students are much more engaged and interested in the material. The most tangible proof is the dramatic decrease in referrals I had to write this year. My students actually wanted to learn and stayed focused. They didn’t have time to get in trouble and they didn’t ignore my requests, because they actually wanted to find answers to all these crazy focus questions.
When I think of student confidence, a student named Sofia immediately comes to mind. She walked in my room on the first day of school seemingly already defeated. When I asked her what her favorite subject was, she said something along the lines of: “Definitely not science, I’m not good at science. This class is going to be so hard.” She had dyslexia and had struggled in the past with other science classes that basically just gave her a list of things to memorize. As the trimester progressed, I realized that she was always ready to participate and was one of my top scorers. At the end of my time with her, I questioned her about what she had said the first day. I’ll never forget her response. She looked up at me kind of confused and said, “Well, I didn’t think I was good at science. You made me good at science.”
STeLLA has given me so much confidence in myself as a teacher, and has given my students so much confidence in themselves. It helped me show them that everyone can be a scientist. I knew that STeLLA would help my students learn on a new level, but I had no idea how much it would affect the culture in my classroom.