Anne Marie Bergen is a science teaching specialist at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, California, where she educates the next generation of STEM teachers using the experience she gained during a 23-year career as an elementary school science instructor. She has won several awards for her skill in the classroom, including the California Teacher of the Year award, the Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence, and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Math.
Why did you become a teacher? Share a story from your past that led to your choosing your field of work.
I never planned to be a teacher, it just happened. The greatest single factor that influenced my choice was an internship at an outdoor school. There, I connected with the natural curiosity of students and wanted to deepen their love of learning, finding science and nature to be an excellent vehicle for this. Through hands-on experiences in this outdoor setting, I recognized the power of effective, experiential learning and translated this into indoor classrooms for almost thirty years!
What fuels your passion for science and teaching?
The fuel for my passion for science and teaching is summed up in my teaching philosophy: active learning, compassionate teaching, and meaningful experiences.
How do you apply that philosophy in the classroom?
I believe if students have concrete, first-hand, active experiences, it is easier for them to work with more abstract concepts resulting in deeper understanding of scientific core ideas. Active and cooperative learning experiences provide students with the skills to communicate, to be problem solvers, to respect one another's ideas, and to be confident lifelong learners. Students will learn best when they feel they are in a safe environment and where there is mutual respect.
In three words, what would your students say they learned from you?
Love for learning.
If you could pick one scientist to come speak to your class, who would it be and why?
Who else, but Dr. Bruce Alberts! His passion for education, learning, science, and teaching is inspiring! (He actually has visited my students!)