Glens Falls City School District recognizes national Teacher Appreciation Week by highlighting committed and enthusiastic teachers from every one of our schools each day of the week! Read on for an inside interview with Megan McCabe—one of the most dynamic teachers around our district.
Recognizing our outstanding educators in GF Nation: Thursday, 5.9.19
Megan McCabe: Science Teacher, Glens Falls Middle School
1) What do you do to engage your students? What makes your teaching and learning environment unique?
I’m a science teacher. I either gross them out or blow their minds. We make every day connections to the natural world (for example, I brought an engorged tick with me to school last week and can tie in the curriculum in a few different ways — as well as give them my own public service announcement about the dangers of these little buggers, which are actually more related to spiders than bugs, but I digress). We think about and discuss our experiences with science every day—things the students don’t often think about. Natural phenomena that we see every day; how we all do some form of the scientific method when we learn from our experiences; how there’s never really failing in science, just not trying. I share my experiences with students and share how I learned, how I failed, and how I continue to learn and sometimes I’m just learning along with the students.
2) Why do you think it’s important to teach the way you do?
I think it’s important to be real with students. I don’t know everything, but I’m still a great student and am always learning. I believe the facts I can share with students are not what is useful in life. Understanding the process to how we attained what we know to be facts is what is useful. I tell the students not to memorize content word for word, but to learn it, understand it, use it, make connections and then you won’t need to “memorize” it, you’ll just remember it. There’s a difference.
3) What do you feel is the most exciting thing about teaching?
You have no idea what your day is going to be like. You don’t know how a lesson is going to go or what teachable moment will show up, which makes the day interesting. You also have the power to make any student’s day brighter, to instill more confidence in them at a time in their adolescence where they’re the most vulnerable. Science lends itself well to this since we, as humans, are natural learners and anyone can be great as science, depending on the amount of effort put in.
4) Describe your best lesson ever.
The best lesson that I do with 7th graders is called Mystery Boxes. I put different objects in each box and seal them. The students work to perform experiments on the boxes and make indirect observations without opening the box and looking at their object. Students work as a team and build models of what the inside of the box looks like. The point in doing this is students get to use their science skills in observation to make accurate models of something that they cannot see (just like scientists do with atoms or eager children do on Christmas).
5) Tell us a little more about yourself.
I graduated from Albany High School and then Northeastern University with a B.S. in Neuroscience. I’ve been teaching for 10 years, 7 of those at GFSD. My favorite unit to teach is genetics.