We Need More Mr. Ps in Biology Education: Strong in Biology, Strong in Science, and in Science Education, Professionals!

Topic: Professionalism| No Comments »

The academic year is flying by and there are still things needing to be done before we can put the books to rest on this year’s classes.  For those in the midland of the USA, you have about 10 more weeks of classes while those in the East and Canada will be going to mid June.   Let me provide if I can a bit of encouragement for all of you as you head into these last few months.A teacher in NJ, a member of NABT during its early years, was known for being a hard teacher who loved his students.  Let me call him Mr. P.  Mr. P’s classes were full of activities, laboratories, and individual and group projects.  His class was always cluttered with so many things going on and always looked messy, but clean.  He was also the Jr. High and JV. Wrestling coach and had polio when he was young.  But his students loved him because he cared for them.  This was not just a job, but a profession.  Mr. P constantly strove to be a better teacher each year. He went to conferences and professional meetings to learn how to be a better teacher.  He put in much time before and after school with his students.  He often would end the year with little thanks from his students, parents or the administration.  Yet, Mr. P persisted as wanting to be a professional biology educator.  His passion for biology, his passion for his students and his desire to be a professional biology educator set him apart from many of his colleagues.  At least that is how it appeared to his students.Mr. P has long ago retired, but his influence continues on.  Many of his previous students are now biologists, physicians and others working in the public health arena, research and others have gone into teaching.  One interesting and previous student, who had attention deficit disorder before it was even recognized, was so highly influenced by Mr. P and his teaching that he followed his example and became a biology teacher and a wrestling coach.  Let’s call this new teacher Mr. M.  Mr. M has been awarded several awards at the school for excellence in teaching and service to the teaching profession.  In a sense, Mr. P’s impact continues today after years of retirement though M. M.  You may ask how I, as an Indiana University Professor, know about Mr. P; well I was that impressionable young student.  I can still remember his class and the impact he had on me to this day.  I remember the chewing out I received for not putting my full efforts into my work, my first science project and many of the laboratories I completed with him. My profession as a teacher was highly influenced by Mr. P but the impact on my teaching did not stop him but was influenced by my university professors and fellow colleagues.  Probably the most impact has been through my involvement with NABT.   I have been blessed to meet so many secondary and university teachers like Mr. P at NABT meetings and their impact on my teaching continues today.  Let me encourage you to keep up the work you are doing, even though you don’t hear it from your students.  Continue with a passion in the field you have chosen and give it your all; continue to influence the next generation.  In November this year, come to the conference in Denver to meet so many other teachers just like Mr. P.  Share in your experiences with them professionally and completely infuse your teaching with exciting new ideas.  And while this is going on, you will become personal friends and colleagues with Mr. P-like teachers from around the world.

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