Lin Andrews: Creating Meaningful Professional Development for Teachers

NCSE’s newest team member is Lin Andrews, who will serve as Director of Teacher Support beginning in late fall. Andrews comes to NCSE from the Independent School in Wichita, Kansas, where she where she rotates between teaching six different curricula, including AP and grade-level biology, anatomy, and zoo science. A science teacher for 18 years, Andrews has also been named a National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) Outstanding Biology Teacher and is part of the AP Biology Leadership Academy, among her many accomplishments.

We thought we’d introduce Andrews through an interview, asking her a few questions about her work in education.

Whats your most memorable moment as a science teacher?

Picking out one memorable moment from eighteen years of teaching is almost impossible to do! When you’ve taught every biology class out there (both high and low level), worked in both a public and private school, and even helped open up a brand-new high school building as a department head, you gather quite a few stories. But for me, my best memories will always be “my” kids.  From the ones who drove me crazy to my best students, every moment of my career was spent helping my kids understand and appreciate biology. I would always tell them: You may not remember a thing I teach you, but know thisyou are loved! And you will always be my kids. Make good choices and appreciate the world around youit’s the only one we have!

What are you most looking forward to in your work for NCSE?

The two things I most look forward to, outside of working with my amazing new colleagues, is helping teachers find the best avenues to navigate the tough subjects and developing meaningful professional development for teachers all over the United States. What an honor to get to work with some of the best teachers in the nation! I’ve heard so many amazing things about our Teacher Ambassadors and I even call several of them dear friends already. I can’t wait to get to know each and every one of our cohorts and teams!

What an honor to get to work with some of the best teachers in the nation!

What will you miss most about classroom teaching?

The thrill of seeing a student light up when they make a connection. There is no better drug than watching my students figure out an idea or concept in biology and then make it their own. I will definitely miss those moments the most.  That, and being able to tell such amazing stories. Biology has the best true-life stories. I have always taught through stories. I love to weave all of the biological concepts into case studies, biographies, and even sci-fi to help our students better understand. I would use the story of Wallace for evolution, the Spanish flu of 1918 for epidemiology, and Avatar for ecology–my list goes on and on. With such amazing writers as Stephen Jay Gould, Sean B. Carroll, and Barbara Kingsolver out there, there was a never-ending treasure trove to pick from! I’m a voracious reader and would immediately assimilate any good story into my classroom whether it was non-fiction or sci-fi/fantasy. If I found a way to hook a student’s interest, I’d use it! Yes, I’ll miss that part very much.

What do you think are the biggest challenges today facing educators focused on climate change? Evolution?

I feel our biggest challenge is shifting the conversation away from “the debate” about these subjects to the reality of them instead. 

Students should be problem-solving climate change, not debating if it’s man-made or natural. Those debates need to be a thing of the past: dealing with the consequences of either “version” of climate change must be dealt with in the here and now, before it’s too late. I often ask my own students, does it really matter how we got here? We need to figure out what we are going to do for all the displaced people from flooding, how we can develop strategies to deal with droughts and wildfires, and all else to come. We must be better than our current leaders and stop arguing in circles. We must be proactive and begin engineering solutions and putting all our STEAM training and efforts to work. In my opinion, you can’t get more “real-world” in a classroom than have them problem-solve how to help with some aspect of climate change.

As for evolution, helping students find peace with their religion and science will be imperative to moving these conversations forward. Again, debating evolution is a waste of our time as we have literally volumes of evidence to support the most important theory of biology. This is where the nature of science is so important. We must use the scientific process to approach the problem and work through all the steps until, upon conclusion, students will be shocked that they thought it was such a big deal in the first place. Reasonable, rational dialogue will be key and showing evidence repeatedly without debate, but with confidence and understanding, is what our teachers need to help conquer the misconceptions about evolution.

When can the NCSETeach community meet you face-to-face?

Even before I accepted the position of Director of Teacher Support, I already had my flight booked for the National Association of Biology Teachers’ National Conference in Chicago, Illinois, in November and paid for my conference out of my own pocket. I never miss it! Now, I get to help the NCSE team in my first major event, since NCSE will have a booth there. I’m hoping to meet as many Teacher Ambassadors and other educators as I can while there. Please, stop by the NCSE booth and introduce yourselves whenever you can. Additionally, while I’m still in the middle of transitioning out of my own classroom, I am available to anyone via my new e-mail address, andrews@ncse.ngo, and will respond as quickly as I can to your requests and needs. Emma Doctors, NCSE Program Coordinator, and the rest of the NCSE crew are helping me stay up to date  until I can dedicate myself completely to my new position—which should be no later than the end of the year. I look forward to getting to know you all!

NCSE Program Coordinator Emma Doctors
Short Bio

Emma Doctors is Program Coordinator at NCSE.

doctors@ncse.ngo

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