Featured #MSUrbanSTEM Sustainability Fellow: Binh Nguyen

Sustainability Fellow: Binh Nguyen

Bio: Binh Nguyen teaches Biology and Chemistry at Northside College Preparatory High School in Chicago, IL.  He enjoys board games and biking.

Reflection: Have I Become the Teacher I Aspired to Be

When I entered the education world, I aspired to be a good teacher.  I wanted to connect with my students, and inspire them to learn and challenge themselves. I wanted to show them that they can do science, but that doesn’t mean they have to pursue it. To do this, every day for several years, I pushed myself to find ways to engage my students in thinking about their world through a scientific lens.  I wanted my students to apply their scientific knowledge and skills both in and out of the classroom.  I tried to imagine myself in their shoes;  I listened to them and created as much of a safe, rigorous, and enjoyable environment as I possibly could.  I spent nights going over students work and data to assess my teaching practice.  I devoted most of my time focused on improving myself, so that I may become this good teacher.

Five years later, have I become the good teacher I aspired to be?  I’m not sure actually… I constantly ask myself this question though, what does it really mean to be a good teacher? Unfortunately, I do not have a complete answer.  In search for a solution, I decided to surround myself with teachers and education professionals who seem to have a voice within their community.  My thought process was…If someone is valued by their community, surely it means that they are good at their profession, no?  Perhaps they will embody or show me what it means to be a good teacher.

Along my journey, mixing myself in with these valued community members, I got to meet with inspiring educators who are passionate about learning.  They showed me how they engage students in learning, and how they gave students opportunities to apply their knowledge.  They told me stories, and revealed to me how they care about their students as people.  They discussed with me how they support their colleagues and push each other to grow and reflect.  They pushed me to my limits, and taught me how to have a voice within my own community.

I learned a lot about how to improve myself as an educator.  But does that mean I am a good teacher?  I’m still not sure about that.  However, I am definitely confident that every teacher has the potential to become a good teacher.  Just like the idea that it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to support a teacher in improvement.  The inspiring educators I’ve met are constantly surrounding themselves with people who encourage them to improve.  With the continuous support, they became the valued community members they are today.

I hope to do the same as these inspiring educators.  I hope to develop a professional learning community who will support and challenge me through my teaching adventures.  Hopefully, one day I will know what it means to be a good teacher, and that I will become one myself.