Meet Angie Mitchell, a 4th grade teacher at Level Cross Elementary who loves teaching science. She loves it so much that, if she weren’t teaching, she’d be a storm chaser. Honestly, we aren’t sure which job takes more nerve, and we’re glad she’s sharing her passion for science with her students.
1. Tell us about the most creative thing you’ve done to get your students excited about science.
Using the TASC kit we created a telegraph machine to send messages back and forth. The students really got excited about seeing how people had to communicate in the past. I have also found and used several webquests with my students to have them create a project on what we are studying. Last year we made a cereal box that featured an animal and how it survives in its environment.
2. What do you wish people understood about teaching science?
That science is the way to engage the students, even the less motivated students, into learning new concepts. You can integrate other areas into your lessons and make learning worthwhile. Science builds on itself, what you teach one year helps them understand the next year’s concepts better.
3. Tell us about a gratifying example of when you saw the “light bulb” go off for a student. How did this make you feel?
Just this week I was teaching about circuits. Each group of students had a wire, light bulb, and a battery, the assignment was to make a working circuit. There were having trouble figuring it out so I simply asked the question how many sides does a battery have. The “light bulb” went off for several, then a couple minutes later I heard, “WE DID IT, MRS. MITCHELL.” This is a wonderful feeling, due to the fact that the students used their problem solving skills to figure it out by themselves. Then they were able to explain to me why it worked.
4. What’s the best advice you’ve received from a fellow teacher?
Make school fun for the students while challenging them at the same time. Set your expectations high and watch the students soar to meet them.
5. Please complete the following sentence: “If I weren’t a science teacher, I’d probably be _____.”
A storm chaser
6. What teacher influenced you most? What was it about him or her that made such an impression?
That is a tough one because I was lucky to have so many good teachers through the years. If I had to pick one I would say my Mrs. Wolfe, my speech teacher. When I started school I had such a terrible speech problem that no one could understand me. She worked with me from Kindergarten to 4th grade. She taught me to believe in myself and not to let a problem stand in my way.
7. What is uniquely challenging about teaching science?
I think for the past several years for me is fitting everything in. I like to cover the topic in depth and sometimes I take too long on one concept, which makes me have to shorten my lessons on another topic.
8. What do you think your students say about you behind your back?
I had a parent tell me last year that her son said, “Mrs. Mitchell is a well-balanced teacher. She is strict enough to keep us in line, and easy going enough to have fun with us.”
9. What do you want students to remember about you when they become adults?
That I believed in them and always pushed them to believe in themeselves also. Every year I tell my students my own personal story of how when I started school noone could understand me. It would have been easy for me to quit and give up on myself. However, with the help of my parents and teachers, I used that problem as a driving force to push me to strive for my goals. I explain that some things will be hard but we can’t let that stand in our way. We have to push ahead and overcome the obstacles
10. And finally, why did you choose science over other subjects or, if you teach multiple subjects, what do you like about teaching science specifically?
I teach multiple subjects, but science by far is my favorite. I love teaching science because it helps students develop the critical thinking and problem solving skills they need for life. Science is all about discovery. Science helps students see that learning is an ongoing thing. Sometimes you have to try many ways to solve a problem, and that is okay. The other main reason I love science is because it is fun for the students. Science was always my favorite subject in school.