As a soil scientist I enjoy research, but I enjoy teaching even more and there is nothing I would rather spend my time doing. I don’t know when I became a teacher because learning and helping other people learn has been something I have been doing my entire life; from teaching my younger siblings how to make cookies, teaching a knitting class to 4th graders as a 4-H teen leader, working as a peer-tutor in college, teaching guests at Disney World about sustainable agricultural production (read about my Disney World internship here) and now preparing to teach my own college class.
Teaching is really hard, there is so much to learn and I love it!
Originally, I wanted to teach because I was not ready to stop learning after college. But I also found that enjoyed helping others learn. Mastering a challenging concept or understanding something that I didn’t know before brings me great satisfaction and accomplishment, and I wanted everyone to feel this way. And I want to share my passion for my subject with anyone who will listen.
When I think about what my teaching is like, a few things come to mind:
Effective–I want to teach in the most effective way possible, so I research, think and experiment with different ways of presenting information in my classes, engaging students with the content and assessing what they have learned. I am ready to try new things that might make my teaching more effective and learning for my students easier or more enjoyable.
Applied and relevant—Much of what I teach is directly applicable, but I strive to make sure that the students in my classes see that through realistic problems, illustrative examples and with their own experiences.
Possible for all students—Classroom learning in college came easily to me because my learning styles aligned directly with the traditional lecture, textbook, homework and exam models of education, but that is not true for every student. Each of us learns differently, so it is important to me to provide different ways for students to learn the material in my classes, so that all students, not just the ones who learn the way I do, can succeed.
Improving and Changing–My teaching practice is constantly improving and changing. This is one of the things that drew me to teaching, even if I teach the same class each semester, there will always be different challenges and opportunities, if I am willing to take them.
Some of the teaching experiences I have already include:
TA Teaching Experience
- Soils Lab–Fall 2015 & Fall 2016 at Virginia Tech
- Instructor of lab that accompanies Soils lecture and applies the concepts being learned in class. I led students through field trips to see and describe different soil profiles, and lab experiments about soil physical, chemical and biological properties.
- Soil Fertility & Management–Fall 2016
- As a TA, I assisted the professor in planning and implementation of the course, helped students with homework during office hours and graded the homework.
- Soils in the Landscape Lab–Spring 2017
- Instructor of lab that accompanies a lecture and applies the concepts being learned in class. I led students through field trips to see and describe different soil profiles, and lab experiments about soil physical, chemical and biological properties. This class is offered to non-major students, so I worked hard to help them understand how soil science related to their interests and disciplines.
- Co-Teaching Soil Fertility & Management–Fall 2017
- Co-Teaching Applied Agronomic Topics in the Mid-Atlantic–Spring 2018