Featured Teacher: Sarah Goldin
Background: Sarah Goldin teaches biology, biochemistry, and chemistry, at Greenwich High School in Greenwich, Connecticut. She also serves as faculty adviser for the school's first Tech Challenge Robots Team. For the past two years, she has co-taught a project-based, interdisciplinary STEM course, which combines environmental chemistry and algebra 2. She also teaches a course called AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), which is an academic elective that promotes college readiness for first-generation college students. She holds a Ph.D. in Genetics and Development from Columbia University.
Question 1: Did you always want to teach?
Answer: I didn’t originally intend to become a teacher. After graduate school, I worked for an intellectual property law firm writing patent applications. I enjoyed it, but the work didn’t really inspire me. Then one day I was conducting an alumni interview with a young man applying to my alma mater. I asked him which subject in high school he enjoyed the least. His immediate response was "science." After pulling the metaphorical knife out of my heart, I asked him why. He just shrugged and said, "because the way it's taught makes it boring." All I could think was that this was a problem I could help solve. So, I went back to school and got my teaching certification.
Question 2: What do you do to remain current and bring the latest science into the classroom?
Answer: It’s all about PubMed Central. For every project I encourage students to find the relevant, freely available peer-reviewed literature in PMC. Then I read the articles too. The most recent ones were about nitrate reduction pathways in plants and nutrient bioextraction by seaweed.
Question 3: Tell us about a hobby or passion outside of work.
Answer: I am trying to write a science-fiction novel. I’ve got pages and pages of character backstory and a plan for the story arc. I just can’t seem to find the time to actually WRITE it.
Question 4: In three words, what would your students say they learned from you?
Answer: I’m going to cheat and use four words… My students would say that my “thing” is saying, “That’s a solvable problem.” About everything, no matter how complicated. Then we get to work.
Question 5: What are you most proud of in your work?
Answer: Helping students develop the capacity for confidence in the face of ambiguity. Life is open-ended and complicated. Just like science. You have to weigh the available evidence and come to an initial decision, while still being humble enough to recognize that new information might lead you to revise your position.