Science educator interview

I am currently enrolled in college at night and creeping toward my goal of one day becoming a science teacher. Throughout the next few years I will be doing all sorts of projects, of course, and I thought it would be fun to share with you some of my science-related projects as they come up.

One of my first assigments was to find a science teacher in my community and interview him/her. I was supposed to ask specific questions and then write a short paper explaining what I found out during the interview.

What follows is that paper I turned in. I am trying to keep my science teacher subject anonymous, and, fortunately, he’s plenty interesting enough that not knowing certain specifics doesn’t detract from the end product. Enjoy!

With 50 years of teaching and coaching football under his belt, Mr. P is relaxed and confident in his Earth/Space 9th-grade classroom. His 80 years of life on this planet haven’t dampened his competitive spirit or inquisitive nature. He’s still constantly learning new things and eagerly passes on his vast knowledge to his honors students. Mr. P doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, either. “God will retire me when he’s ready,” he said.

One reason Mr. P is still going strong is because he knows the students need him. It’s not always the answers to the next chapter’s test that they’re seeking from him; there are basic life lessons to be learned too. He’s a grandfather to them. He’s not afraid to tell a girl that she is flashing too much skin or a boy that he needs to show some respect. Unfortunately, he’s finding himself having to do such things more often these days. One of the greatest frustrations he faces as a teacher is disrespect from his teen charges. He hopes that during each year his newest students will develop respect for him as a person, but from the onset he demands at least respect for his position as the teacher.

Over the years, Mr. P has enjoyed meeting all of the hundreds of students that have passed through his classes, and he hopes that he’s influenced each one to some degree. Ingrained into his own generation and further embedded by his service in World War II: discipline, empathy and curiosity are the traits that he says a teacher needs to have. He doesn’t see himself as a science teacher, though. He’s emphatic in saying he’s a kid teacher first.

But in his science classroom he thinks the most important thing to teach students is the scientific method. It’s invaluable to all aspects of life and Mr. P tries to get all of his kids to learn to apply it to every situation, even when dealing with parents. Right behind that in priority is instilling an inquisitive nature. He wants his students to ask questions about anything at any time. Why is the sky blue? Why is the sidewalk buckling? What do my parents want? Mr. P never stops asking questions and he expects nothing less from his students.

In Florida, where Mr. P teaches, there is a constant pressure to prepare kids for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests (FCATs), a high stakes battery of tests that can decide a kid’s and a school’s fate every year. However, Mr. P is unfazed by the hoopla. He dispelled my preconception that the testing permeates all aspects of school life. Teaching science is what he does, and tests aren’t going to derail him from doing what he does best. Quality teaching is quality teaching regardless of what tests are administered.

Beside, Mr. P is a competitor. His decades of coaching football teams to winning seasons carries over to his classroom. If a school administrator steps into his room to conduct an official observation, he’s ready with a “bring it on” attitude. No one is going to beat him at his own game: teaching kids.

During my interview with Mr. P, I was swept up in his self-confidence and enthusiasm. It was motivating to see this man still at the top of his game, driven by an honest desire to help kids. Talking with him for one hour was a welcome boost, making me want to be a teacher all the more.

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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One Response to Science educator interview

  1. Well, if you use Mr. P as your standard, I am sure you will be a fine teacher.

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