My love of science stems from thinking about big ideas and finding ways to explain them, which I learned about myself during graduate school. I realized that the energy I gained from moments of discovery in the lab paled in comparison to the excitement of catalyzing eureka moments with my students. After teaching science classes at both the graduate and undergraduate level, I’ve gravitated towards teaching material that conveys the broad skills that allow students to understand the scientific method and use it to probe the natural world in an objective way. These experiences have led me to pursue a career in secondary education, where the big ideas of science are introduced. After having lived and studied on the east coast for the past decade, I am excited to have moved back to my home in the Pacific Northwest to pursue my interests in education here.
The prospect of a career in education has appealed to me since I entered college. As an undergraduate at a liberal arts college, I found it easy to establish relationships with professors because they led my discussion and lab sections, much in the way that high school teachers interact with their pupils. This level of involvement between student and teacher appealed to me and I entered the academic training ground of graduate school having convinced myself that the life of a small college professor, including running a small research lab and teaching classes, would bring me the most satisfaction. During my time at Harvard, however, I saw that the realities of academic science conflicted with my earlier vision of life as an academic scientist. My time at a fast-paced research-focused institution highlighted those conflicts and has motivated me to pursue teaching the sciences to high school students.
Students have described me as “efficient, effective, [and] fun,” “an absolute pleasure,” and “a phenomenal teacher […] a natural.” One student wrote, “I'm so glad I had him as my Section Leader. He was super enthusiastic about the topic, so that generated more enthusiasm among us (the students). He was really helpful when we asked him questions during lab or during office hours. Also, David brought other applications of the topic (and some tangential subjects) we were learning about during the section, so it's good to see that he had more outside knowledge of how something could be used.” These comments reflect my personal approach to teaching. When I am with a student, I overshoot the level of enthusiasm I express about the material. I am unafraid of being goofy. Keeping students entertained ensures that they pay close attention to the material, which is crucial for its absorption. I also admit mistakes, which eases students’ fear of asking questions or making mistakes themselves. I take these approaches to foster a sense of collaboration by communicating that I, the teacher, am not on a different level than the students. Instead, we work together. I learn about my students’ interests outside of science, their motivations, their backgrounds, and their plans for the future. Building these relationships and inspiring young people is why I am excited to be a tutor.