Many students perceive Service-Learning as something for Humanities majors, but little do STEM majors know, S-L is for everyone and is especially important for STEM majors. In this next installment of Connecting S-L and STEM, we will address confidence.
Confidence– It is not something that can be taught, and it can only be gained from experience. Brigette Muller, a fourth-year Physics major, gained confidence in her freshman year while serving at Ellis Memorial Afterschool Program. After taking her first physics class in high school in New Jersey, Brigette felt called to become a physics teacher. She got her first taste of being in the classroom when she took Education in the Community with Polly Atwood.
Brigette began serving at Ellis Memorial in Fall 2016, working with middle school students. She traveled to the South End once a week and assisted the teachers with setting up activities and supported the students in their homework.
Working with middle school students can be a daunting task for even the most seasoned teacher. When Brigette first started volunteering, it was nerve-wracking. Would she make a mistake? Would she be able to control the class? What if she got a math problem incorrect? No course, no matter if it is education-focused or a physics-focused can fully prepare someone to enter a lively middle school classroom. Although she initially found the task at hand daunting, Brigette continued serving at Ellis Memorial. She soon learned how to manage a classroom of excitable middle schoolers. She learned patience and gained the confidence to bring the group of students’ attention back to her.
Brigette’s confidence grew exponentially as the semester progressed. Two years later, Brigette tapped back into the self-assurance she now had from S-L as she transitioned into a co-op with Brookline Public Schools. For her first co-op, she worked as a substitute teacher as well as a teacher’s assistant. Every day, Brigette would go into a classroom of elementary schoolers and lead them with complete confidence. Pulling from her freshman year experiences allowed Brigette to feel more comfortable in this leadership role, as she was already well versed in establishing classroom dynamics and explaining STEM content from her time at Ellis Memorial. While her STEM classes prepared her for the content she would help her students with, her service helped her command a room.