Nancy Bates

"The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see."
Alexandra K.Trenfor
Nancy Bates

I attended a two-day workshop for science teachers recently; at the end of the second day, we were asked to form small groups according to the grade level taught. Almost all the attendees were locked in to a single grade level; I could choose from fifth through eighth grades, and I chose seventh because it seemed to be the smallest group.

At a recent science teachers workshop, the task was to develop a three-lesson mini-unit on the topics that we had just learned about. My team members, other science teachers, started began by discussing what would be on the state end-of-year assessments and how to fit everything in a limited amount of time. I offered that I would start with a hands-on activity as a “hook” that would be followed by a class discussion to develop some guiding questions, and then individual research on laptops to find information about those questions.

Almost every one of my teammates said in wonder, “Where do YOU teach?” I tried to describe the Coop, but only a few understood. “What does ‘progressive’ mean?” “Where do you find time to have students build things?” “WHERE is this school?” Finally one public-school teacher commented, “It sounds like a dream job for a teacher.”

She got it right. It really and truly is my dream job. Every day, I have the opportunity to work with kids who are bright, engaged, fun to be with, and love to learn. I am in a school environment that feels more like a family, surrounded by children of all ages, their parents who are supportive and caring, and colleagues who are diverse in their personalities, but who all share a common goal. Over my whole career, I have now taught every grade from fifth through college in a variety of settings–public, private, parochial, urban, suburban–so I know that that being part of the Montclair Coop family is a dream come true for me.