Release Date: 2/23/2012
Elodie Adams has a true love for teaching. A senior education major from Belgium, she recently won a competitive grant to attend the national meeting of the National Science Teachers Association, which will take place in Indianapolis.
NSTA is a member-driven organization aimed at helping science teachers connect with one another, and at promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning. Their national conference, scheduled for March 29-April 1, will give Adams a chance to hear presentations from science educators across the country, as well as attend special sessions and exhibits designed to highlight work being done in the field of science education.
Ozarks senior education major Elodie Adams received a grant to attend the NSTA conference in Indianapolis in March.
To win this award, Adams wrote an essay in which she shared her teaching experiences at Westside School last year during Maymester, a three-week long intensive teaching practicum.
"I had to write a 500-word essay on each of three topics," said Adams, who graduates next spring. "The first topic was what my biggest challenge as a pre-service teacher was; the second question was what was my biggest success as a pre-service teacher; finally, I had to explain what I was planning to do with what I learned from the conference. It was difficult to be limited to only 500 words for each answer!"
Adams says her experience of teaching during Maymester was challenging at first but ultimately rewarding. "I had to teach a class of 23 students," she said, "and 20 of these students were boys. Sometimes boys tend to listen less. The teacher told me it was his hardest class, so I was nervous of going in there. But they listened very well to me, and actually it was my best class. Often in the other classes, the students seemed more to have the attitude of not really wishing to be there, or of not wishing to listen. But my boys were actually talking all the time and interacting with me. I did a review game at the end of the two weeks, and they were really excited about it. During the game, they were really competitive, they really tried their best, even though I had nothing for them and it was just for points. They were excited about everything, and that's what makes a difference."
Adams contrasts her experiences of the American high school system favorably against the European model. "The educational system here is very different than in Europe," she said. "The first thing I've noticed is here they tend to teach less information in high school, but they give more time for the students to understand what they are really teaching. In Europe it's mostly a matter of remembering the information you are given until you take the test, and then you go on to the next topic. I've noticed here they tend to focus more on the student being actually able to use the knowledge. It is a good thing."
Although she has always attended small schools, Adams said Ozarks is different. "None of them were so family oriented as U of O," she said. "Ozarks is a big family. It's very comfortable I think to study here. And it is very helpful to be a part of the international student population. I was very shy when I arrived. I wouldn't talk to anybody. I think it helps to meet students who are from different countries. Eric Leon and Dr. Casey both make you very comfortable, so it's an additional help to getting through college. They are another family."
Adams plans to begin teaching high school science immediately upon graduation. She is required to teach in Arkansas four years under the terms of her educational funding. "I was thinking of getting my Master's degree at some point," she said, "but for now I want to teach. Perhaps I will teach on the university level later on? Maybe in a few years."
Asked her advice for incoming students wishing to teach, she laughed. "Most of my good advice has come from Dr. Van Scoy, my teacher," she said. "But for myself, my advice would be to hang in there. At first college seems like a lot of work, a lot of classes, but it is fun once you begin to be able to teach. So n'abandonnez jamais. Never give up!"