Vice Presidential Candidates
I have been teaching physics (AP 1, 2, and regular) at Gilbert High School (Arizona) since 2015. I was first introduced to modeling as a student teacher, many years ago. I saw right away the depth that modeling naturally added to our activities. After “testing” out modeling in my own classroom, I attended my first workshop at ASU, where I recognized that modeling was the missing piece in my own teaching practices. Modeling seamlessly added the conceptual understanding and critical thinking that all STEM courses are built upon. I look forward to the opportunities each summer to take more courses, and to participate in conferences.
Because of my own experiences as a lone woman in my undergraduate physics program, I have worked to strengthen women and underrepresented in their pursuit of STEM courses as well as breaking down barriers to make physics more accessible to all students. I have seen how modeling practices provide an opportunity for engagement with all of our students in more meaningful ways, and has allowed me another way to support women in my classroom. This past February my experiences were published in a journal published by the Ministry of Education, Costa Rica.
When schools made a dramatic shift to online learning last spring, I developed a fully online optics unit, where students performed a blend of at home experiments and online simulations. I have since participated in presenting these activities in both individual and group webinars through ITEN, AMTA, and AAPT. Not everyone can afford to travel for workshops and conferences, this past year has opened up opportunities to reach more people in our teaching community through online formats. Moving forward from this year of growth, we need to look at how (and when) to integrate these new online teaching resources into our current practices. As we do this, AMTA will open up to a more diverse collection of modeling instructors, which then creates a more stable and sustainable AMTA for the future.
I started my teaching career as a math teacher at a local high school when I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guinea from 2000-2002. After a detour to get my Ph.D. in Geophysics at the University of California, San Diego, I realized that while I enjoyed research, teaching is my real passion. I have been teaching at international schools since 2008, primarily as a physics and general science teacher. I currently work at the International School of Curitiba, in Brazil, where I am the only physics teacher at my school. I first came across the AMTA website while searching for information on how to improve my students’ conceptual understanding of physics. Like many others, I found attending a Modeling workshop to be a transformative experience. It has provided me not only with a cohesive pedagogy but also a community of like-minded people. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to attend a summer workshop because of both the cost and the time commitment involved. During the pandemic, we have discovered that online workshops can be a viable and potentially cheaper alternative. Increasing the number of online workshops will make Modeling Instruction more accessible and teacher training more equitable, especially for those who lived and work in economically disadvantaged communities. Online workshops can also more easily be attended by those who live outside of the US. By creating more opportunities for teachers to get involved, AMTA can continue to grow. I also believe that it is time to think beyond the borders of the US. By including the international community, the Modeling community will grow bigger and include a more diverse range of perspectives, which can only be a positive.
I’ve been learning to implement modeling in my physics classroom since 2008. It’s the best thing I have done in my career. Over 30+ years of teaching I’ve taught a variety of 7-12 science courses & recognize science ed issues/concerns over a wide spectrum.
I’ve enjoyed giving back to our community working as board secretary. I hope to continue using the skills I learned to support our board & again give time towards committee work furthering our goals.
I have a personal commitment to increase the diversity of our membership and this board. I look forward to AMTA becoming more supportive of the work of marginalized/unsupported educators. AMTA can’t truly improve Science Ed until we have the input of a membership that reflects the populations being taught in our country. As educators, each of us plays a role to increase outreach to groups not already present so AMTA becomes known as a welcoming friendly community of effective collaborators.
As a workshop leader I have a unique opportunity to facilitate learning/growth in areas of equity/inclusion & create to opportunities for participants to learn equity/share inclusion skills. I will participate on our communications platforms to encourage growth in myself & our community as a whole.
We must make strides in financial sustainability. This frees us to reach out to others, providing opportunities regardless of financial status. While membership dues are low compared to other organizations, the majority of our funding must come from revenue sources outside of teacher’s wallets. We hired two new staff members to help with communication/PR which allows us to reach out more effectively beyond our current perimeter . Next we must work to draw in new talent for the specific role of improving our financial bottom line so teachers and students of all populations/backgrounds may benefit.
My students and I have benefitted enormously from the modeling community over the past four years. Based on our school science enrollment patterns and benchmark test results, my switch to modeling has made physics learning more engaging and more durable for my students. At the same time, from attending modeling workshops, I’ve become part of a network of dynamic colleagues from across the world who provide invaluable support and inspiration, and who have been instrumental in my growth as a physics professional. I would like to support the institution which kick-started this growth for me, and work to bring these same opportunities to other teachers through service with AMTA. Thank you for this opportunity!
AMTA supports itself through corporate sponsorships, grants, and a wide range of professional development activities. The more AMTA is useful to teachers and our students, the more self-sustaining these incomes will be. Focusing on AMTA’s core mission — providing high-quality professional development for STEM teachers everywhere — and working to ensure that our programs are known and accessible will bring financial stability.
As coronavirus has shown, virtual workshops, happy hours, and webinars are popular with busy teachers – maintaining a strong virtual presence and keeping some of these virtual events free and inclusive to non-members are great ways to introduce AMTA to a wider community and to increase membership diversity. In addition, expanding or rotating the locations in which face-to-face workshops are offered, and nominating local AMTA members to serve as facilitators or co-facilitators could build capacity in areas which are currently underserved.
Finally, many AMTA workshops already incorporate lessons which encourage and promote equity. Explicitly adding these lessons to the modeling curricula and working them into the teacher notes is one way to support equitable teaching practices. Equity should also be addressed at the facilitator training level.
AMTA is a leader in U.S. science education, providing critical support and networking opportunities for teachers who use the Modeling Method of Instruction. It has been my honor over the past 20 years to partner with ASU and AMTA to support many new and existing modelers. Currently, I am the Director of the Next Generation Modeling Courses for Teachers program at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh—and a crazy-enthusiastic modeler!
What is your vision for ensuring the financial sustainability of AMTA?
AMTA effectively recruits and supports its members. However, to remain relevant in the 21st-century, AMTA must improve its internet presence; update its support materials; increase workshop accessibility for teachers in remote/economically disadvantaged areas; establish new partnerships with universities/colleges; and expand its reach to the (almost entirely untapped) international community.
How do you envision increasing the diversity of AMTA’s membership and working towards inclusion for existing members?
AMTA’s forte is science teacher professional development. Therefore, AMTA must attract science teachers to modeling workshops from every corner of the U.S., from inner-cities to remote towns. Workshops must be responsive to the needs of culturally diverse communities. Every effort must be made to make workshops geographically accessible and sensitive to teacher with small/non-existent department budgets. AMTA must continue to be intentional in making all members feel a sense of belonging.
How can you support equitable training/teaching practices within the AMTA community?
Effective modeling in the classroom relies on engaged student-learning communities. As a result, the modeling approach provides a natural opportunity to raise issues of equity, trust, acceptance, understanding, and mutual respect in the classroom. I envision a new set of workshop standards that not only strengthen training in modeling pedagogy, but also promote equitable teaching practices.
I have been in STEM Education since 2011 — as a classroom teacher, instructional coach, and professional development (PD) leader. I became a Modeler in 2015, attending a mechanics workshop, and this had a transformational impact on my teaching. This ensuing pedagogical shift has also influenced the way I lead PD, and fuels my passion to transform STEM Education in the classroom. As classroom environments change, it’s imperative that AMTA responds in kind while retaining the roots of what makes modeling so effective; this means that the sustainability of AMTA will come from members, and members are more active when their voices are heard and when the resources are up-to-date. Virtual workshops, the community Discord, and the podcast are a few ways that AMTA is promoting member activity. Another possible, creative avenue is to have a version of hybrid workshops, in which “pods” of teachers locally gather to attend a virtual workshop. I would love to see this idea come to fruition. This has the potential to attract new members, and ultimately increase diversity and inclusion within our community. As science and STEM educators, it is imperative that we consider a variety of perspectives, and that we hear from varied voices — this is what we strive to cultivate in our classrooms; it should be so in our professional community as well. A diverse and inclusive community helps us learn and ultimately better serve our students from every background. As a member-at-large, and part of a minority group myself, I welcome the opportunity to advocate for and share the diverse views of all members. I am passionate about quality STEM education, and passionate about modeling instruction, and therefore I am committed to continue to pursue efforts to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion for the AMTA community, as well as reflect on, refine, and share my own equitable teaching practices. AMTA has been invaluable to my growth as an educator, and I would be honored to be a Member-At-Large.