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WGU Graduate Speaker, Brittany Pierce, Winter 2017

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Brittany Pierce, Winter 2017
Western Governors University
<p>WGU 2017 Winter Commencement Speaker Brittany Pierce.</p> <p>Brittany Pierce earned her Master of Arts, Science Education (5-9) degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>To begin, those of you who are getting your bachelors, congratulations, you did it. [Applause] To those of us receiving our masters, congratulations, you did it again. [Applause] And for those of you in the really special striped robes, you inspire me to do it a third time. [Applause]</p> <p>There are two things that defined my choice to become a teacher, as well as setting me on the path to gaining and receiving the education that I have today. The first is my early educational experiences, and the second is a class that I by chance took as an undergraduate.</p> <p>I grew up in a family where science and exploration were incorporated into my everyday living. I had amazing parents. We captured spider webs during the summer and looked at their symmetry. We blew bubbles outside at negative 40 degrees and watched them shatter on the deck. We observed a lynx that was lying in the backyard and we engaged in science conversations at the dinner table nightly. I also was extremely lucky to have attended a middle school staffed with phenomenal science teachers.</p> <p>With the level engagement I had with science education so early on, you can imagine my disappointment in high school when I took a series of science classes where the teachers pointed the glass at a textbook, and expected us to learn. I remember thinking that even with my limited background in science, I could've done a better job.</p> <p>While trying to figure out a career path, I chanced upon a class: Intro to teaching secondary science. The class was amazing. We played review games, we built rockets, and I fell in love with teaching and the idea that one person could make education fun. One of the requirements for the class was that we go into local schools and observe in classrooms. One day, while observing in a middle school, I was approached by one of the students who asked me if I was planning on becoming a teacher. When I responded that I was thinking about it, he then questioned why I would ever want to do such a thing. I've questioned it myself.</p> <p>I told him that I didn't understand. He then commented that middle school was the worst thing in the entire world and that the most boring class in middle school was science. I was a little shocked, and I asked why. He declared that they never did anything but read the textbook. It sounded very familiar. I asked what he would've thought if science class were hands on, if there were interactive labs. I will never forget his response. He looked at me and said, "You can do that?" Then he skeptically said, "Well, if you can do that, then maybe you should become a teacher."</p> <p>I continued my university career as a dedicated education major. As a teacher, I do my best to engage my students and make learning fun. I start each day with a personal good morning to each of the students accompanied by a high five in the hall. I use games to review information, stories, projects, and laughter to engage my students in learning, so that none of them feel like they have to get their education solely from a textbook.</p> <p>Just last month, some of my students created their own islands and wrote stories about how they were discovered, later turning those islands into topographic maps. Another group of students created Rube Goldberg machines to learn how simple machines interact with each other. And a third group of students, a simulation of RNA and protein synthesis, my students make ice cream and brownies. That is a big hit.</p> <p>My classroom is a place where often there's noise, and often there's laughter. I've convinced some of my students to use music to learn. Learning the characteristics of metals while wrapping them, makes them unforgettable. Through the years I've learned how to roll with the punches and that the best-planned lessons rarely work out. Sometimes the best lessons are the ones that happen spur of the moment.</p> <p>I have always had a love of learning, and so I have planned from the day of my high school graduation, to get a master's degree. In August of 2015, I started looking seriously for grad schools. I chanced upon WGU. It had everything that I was looking for, and so I applied. I was accepted and began my master's program on December 1st 2015. In November of 2016, I completed my degree as a science education major. I learned more about student engagement, and how important it is to make students part of their own learning.</p> <p>I especially enjoyed learning about if, and, then hypothesis statements. I immediately applied this new knowledge and taught my students who commented that they made so much more sense. I am in total agreement.</p> <p>We need more unconventional teachers. My path to become a teacher was slightly unconventional. It led me from Alaska to Colorado, to student teaching in Mexico, back to Alaska and now to WGU. Thanks to WGU innovative approach to education, I have the skills that I need to create exciting, engaging lessons for my students. I love teaching and I love my students. I also believe in kids.</p> <p>I love making science learning fun, and believe it or not, I am never bored. As teachers, our journey is never over. We should always be improving ourselves and trying new things. We should always be striving to make learning more engaging, interactive, and fun. Thank you.</p> <p>[Applause]</p>
Western Governors University
© 2017 Western Governors University – WGU. All Rights Reserved.
Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)