Guest blog post by Pam Devers
I grew up as the typical “small town girl living in a small town world” (Journey). In the eighth grade my mind was set that I was going to be a science teacher and teach in my hometown. It took about a decade of working in a lab and jobs in even smaller schools to make it back to my town with a population of nine thousand. Contentment was mine at this point, but then I found out through NSTA that there was more than just the NE corner of the fly over state of Oklahoma.
For years I had gone to workshops locally, but then I heard about NSTA having a conference in San Diego. A fellow teacher and I asked our principal if we could go. We figured the least they could say was no, which would not have hurt us. Instead, we got a yes and did our little victory jig. The whole conference weekend kept my mind in overdrive from all the new ideas discussed and shown at the sessions. I was hooked, so of course we asked the next year and the next. Sometimes we got a quick yes, sometimes we heard others should be allowed an opportunity to attend in their fields but many never applied. For years we did our little dance and opened our world.
I have seen famous people speak telling about their insights. My claim to fame that I tell my students, is when I touched Bill Nye. Really, I was going up an escalator as I saw him making his way up the stairs beside my sloth way of maneuvering. I got off fast then walked swiftly to tap him on the shoulder to get his attention. He turned around, politely listened to my rambling introduction and admirations then we parted. My students know me well enough, so I tell the true story as they grin and roll their eyes at me.
I emulate demonstrations and lessons learned from teachers around the country. They also explained the success and failures to avoid they experienced. Exhibit booths of equipment beckon to be in my classroom. During the conference, I make a list to write grants for more TOYS (T.angible O.bjects Y.ielding S.cience). The main downfall to this is when I have to pack all my collected toy boxes to get my room ready to paint for the summer.
The conferences have taken me to major cities within our nation, which I would not have seen otherwise. NSTA also has shown me other opportunities to learn more from others outside of conferences. I was truly blessed with a trip of a lifetime to Japan for the TOMODACHI STEM Leadership Conference with amazing teachers and students. I just saw on Facebook one of our students won the Toshiba ExploraVision competition which thrills me. This year, I applied and get to go to Canada for the EINSTIENPLUS workshop which I am super excited about attending. I would not have known about it if I did not get NSTA’s publication listing it as an available resource for teachers.
I was fifty when I went to Japan and started filling out applications of opportunities outside of my little world. I have been told no a few times, pouted a little, but then filled out more applications. My classroom career has a few more years left. If I had things to do over, I would have looked out into the big picture sooner but I will always be thankful for my membership with NSTA.
Pam Devers teaches Chemistry I, Honors Chemistry II, Honors Physics, and Teach Oklahoma at Pryor High School in Pryor, Oklahoma. This year marks Devers’ 30th year of teaching.