Andrea Rowanhill, Physics Teacher, Monticello High School
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
For me, the hardest part of teaching is finding a balance between covering all of the content and teaching for deeper understanding. I want to introduce students to the broad concepts of physics. Still, it is useful to take extra time to explore a topic and develop a more solid foundation. This balancing act is even more of a challenge for classes with end-of-year assessments such as AP exams.
What is the most common misconception about your job?
The old notion that “Those who can do, and those who can’t teach” is a poor representation of the teachers that I know. My peers at Monticello High School are very knowledgeable and many are experts in their subject areas. We could have chosen another career, but were drawn to teaching to share our love of learning with others.
Where do you see the teaching field in five years?
There is already a large shift towards more technology use in Albemarle County Public Schools. Some classes are starting to take advantage of the resources available by implementing “flipped” classrooms. In these classes, content is delivered through videos online as homework. Class time is spent on problem solving and labs. This is one of the many ways that I expect technology to transform the current model of the classroom away from the traditional lecture format.
What outside experience best prepared you to become an educator?
Ever since I was young, I have loved to fix things, to take them apart and figure out how they work. When I was in college at the University of Florida, I worked as a research assistant in the Microkelvin Laboratory. I helped to build a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) thermometer for the lab. It wasn’t simple, and there were a lot of problems to solve along the way. I saw the link between textbook physics and its application in the real world. I think that it is essential for teachers to make school subjects relevant to the students’ lives. Each time I take something apart, I get ideas for how to help students make connections between physics and the world around them.