Teacher Spotlight: Jacqueline Gooch
Jacqueline Gooch is a Science Tutor for MEK Review. This Summer, she is tutoring in Biology and Chemistry enrichment.
The following is an interview between her and our marketing writer:
Teaching at MEK
Interviewer: What is your favorite part of teaching at MEK?
Gooch: I love the students’ willingness to stay engaged. I taught via Zoom through a pandemic and got used to looking at little black boxes for a year. So, it’s refreshing to see students keeping their cameras on and actively participating in class.
I also like the support teachers are given through navigating Canvas. We aren’t bogged down by paperwork and minutiae and are able to focus on teaching.
Interviewer: You mentioned you taught via Zoom during the pandemic. Where do you teach outside of MEK?
Gooch: I just recently moved from Atlanta where I taught in the public school system for thirteen years. Last year, I moved to a private, independent school, and this year I will be taking a position as the Science Coordinator at the JEC High School in Elizabeth, NJ.
Interviewer: What’s your key to student engagement in the online classroom?
Gooch: The key is to make the lessons as interactive as possible. I give students multiple opportunities to demonstrate learning in a format where everyone can participate and answer at the same time, such as polls and surveys. I also like to give students opportunities to work with their peers in groups in break out rooms.
Exceling in the Science Classroom
Interviewer: What is your advice to students who want to excel in the science classroom?
Gooch: Study consistently. Science is not a discipline that you can cram for the night before the test. The biggest take away I would tell any student is to look at the material you cover in class as often as you can. You don’t need to spend an hour studying, but taking fifteen to twenty minutes to review your notes daily will benefit you in the long run. Also, make sure you’re asking your teachers clarifying questions if you don’t understand something.
Interviewer: How do you think students can build mindset or stamina?
Gooch: I think it’s all about schedules and building a routine. I try to have a fifteen minute rule, even for myself as an adult learner. I’ll look at something for fifteen minutes, and then I’ll step away. I may look at it again during the day, but after fifteen minutes of focusing on a particular item of study, your brain may no longer be receiving information. It’s good to have brain breaks. Even when I’m teaching virtually, I have my students reflect on the course material they’ve been learning every fifteen to twenty minutes. If I were to lecture for forty-five minutes, students would stop retaining information after the first twenty minutes. So, it’s important to review new information in order to process.
It’s also all about finding systems that work for you. For example, if you know that you are an auditory learner, ask your teacher if you can record your classes. Or if you’re a visual learner, you can use different colored pencils to write your annotations or draw your diagrams. It’s all about embracing the way you learn and incorporating that into your study sessions.
Interviewer: What inspired you to become a teacher?
Gooch: I had a professor in college who inspired me to become a teacher. I actually wanted to teach at the college level and was committed to working on my PhD. After a discussion with my mentor, I realized that I loved lecturing and working with students more than I loved to do research, and he encouraged me to look into teaching at a public school.
Interviewer: What are some words of wisdom you have for students applying to college?
Gooch: My best advice is to not get caught up in the name of the school. If money is an issue, go where they are offering you the most money in scholarships and financial aid, so you can get the support you need.
Also, research schools that are the best schools for your major. For example, you might have your heart set on Harvard, but the best program for your major might be at another school. So, make sure you do your research before you apply.
And I’m a big proponent of the two year university, especially from the financial aspect. During the first two years of college, everyone takes the same entry level, general education courses. So, I advise many of my students to check out the community college in their neighborhood. You can save money and apply to the four year university of your choice later on.
Interviewer: What do you like to do outside of MEK?
Gooch: I’m a triathlete. I used to weigh almost 300 pounds. When I started losing weight, I asked my cousin to train me in running. At first, I couldn’t run down the block, but over time I built up my stamina and started to sign up for races. I began with 5k’s and worked my way up to marathons.
And then one day while I was running at the park, I met someone who said I should try a triathlon. I started asking them questions and was intrigued by the prospect of biking, swimming, and running, even though I hadn’t biked at that point in maybe twenty years. So, I bought myself a bike and talked to the swim coach at the high school where I was working and began to train. It felt like a natural progression from my training as a runner as I was looking for the next challenge. My goal for next year is to compete in an IronMan 70.3 Triathlon.
Interviewer: Any book recommendations for high schoolers?
Gooch: For science related books, I like The Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. I also think that students should read Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey.