Arby Dickert teaches students Chemistry and Physical World Concepts at Hardin Valley Academy in Knoxville, TN. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Clemson University and a Masters of Arts in Teaching Science from WGU.
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You may never know the kind of impact you had on your students. When you discover it, though, treasure the moment.
It could be something as simple as my experience last summer at my school STEM camp when I saw Mark there, a senior volunteering as a mentor to younger students at the camp. During one of the breaks, I asked Mark what he wanted to be after he graduated.
“You already asked me that,” he said.
“Yeah, at Camp Buck Toms,” he reminded me. “We were putting together a radio. You told me to read ‘Calculus Made Easy.’”
I had completely forgotten about Mark and putting the radio kit together that summer five years earlier. But I quickly remembered about that time, when I was his camp counselor at Camp Buck Toms Scout Camp on the shores of Watts Bar Lake in Roane County, Tennessee.
When Mark told me, then, that he wanted to be some type of engineer, I told him that meant lots of math and referred him to the calculus book. I never knew that this would register with a 12-year-old scout.
“Wow, OK, I had forgotten about that. Did you like the book?”
“Oh yeah, it was great,” he said. “I read it and went to a used bookstore and bought some Calculus books. I worked every problem in them and took the AP exam for Calculus. I made a five on it. I didn’t even have to take Calculus at Hardin Valley.”
I was speechless. A simple comment I made five years ago helped a student unlock a passion for math that enabled him to not only learn, but earn college credit for a course he did not take in high school.
Further reading: Guiding Students
You never know the impact that you will have on a young person. Whenever you have contact with a student, ask about their goals and what they want to be when they grow up. Give them a suggestion that will help set them on that path.
Here’s a few more ways to inspire and build a relationship with your students:
Further reading: 3 Ways to Excite and Encourage Girls in STEM
Making a difference in your students’ lives is a matter of watching for the random opportunities to learn about their interests, or challenges, and offering ideas or solutions. It takes a moment more of your time, but the return on the investment can last their lifetimes.