This week, Mandy Carter, a 7th-grade science teacher at Erwin Middle School, is helping her students understand how plant and animal cells function. The students are working in groups creating analogies for each part of the cell.
"This concept is hard for them. We introduce really difficult and new vocabulary all at one time. I’ve planned lots of different activities to help them learn the terms and ideas,” says Carter, who’s been teaching middle school for 12 years.
Carter is very supportive as her class tackles complex concepts like learning about mitochondria and ribosomes. “I try to make sure all the students can access our curriculum in lots of different ways. It’s important to me that, especially in science, all students have a chance to experiment with the idea, read and write about it, and talk to someone about it before they are expected to master it,” she says.
While science can be a difficult subject, being a pre-teen can be hard as well. Carter strives to make sure her students know that they are loved and supported. She also stresses to them the importance of them learning to care about each other.
“They are at an age where they are trying to figure out what kind of grown-up they want to be, and for me to be a part of that process is an honor. It’s inspiring to see how they learn and change,” she says.
Carter is grateful to be a part of her students’ lives, especially during these important years and this keeps her coming back day after day. While she is serious about teaching her curriculum, she adds middle school aged children are also fun to be around.
“Middle school kids are funny. I like to laugh with them, and that can lighten a day that could otherwise be frustrating. That makes it interesting.”