Role: Lead Science Teacher
School: KIPP TEAM Academy
What motivated you to become a teacher?
My mother was a former principal of a private school. She was the one who saw my teaching abilities. I’ve also always admired the role of teachers in society. Basically, everyone has been taught something in their lives by someone who was able to make what was once unknown accessible. Furthermore, education is the foundation of a productive and civil society—as well as the basis for discovery. Lastly, I view education as a means for change for a better society. I ultimately see myself as a change agent.
What’s the best part of your job?
I have more than one! I would say, educating my amazing students and planting the seeds of their success. I go to work every day with the full expectation that the next Bill Gates or the next social media network founder is in our schools. If we don’t plant these seeds, and give students an equitable opportunity to learn STEM skills, then we all lose. I believe in the success and potential of our learners to accomplish the greatest things in this world—if they have the opportunity to do so. Supporting student success on a daily basis with the computer science and robotics initiatives, as well as pre-AP biology class (which gives 8th graders 11th grade material!) is awesome.
What does it look like when students are engaged in science work?
We believe that students need to be at the center of their learning and learn best by doing. That includes phenomena- and inquiry-based learning requiring students to think deeply about their ideas. We also encourage them to evaluate and revise their ideas and those of their peers to create true investment in their work. Sometimes, we even plant false information that students then must correct. When students are engaged, they also partake in investigative-based learning. When students take the reins of their learning (and are able to revise their ideas along the way), they experience considerable learning gains.
Wherever they go after KIPP TEAM Academy, we want them to be prepared to succeed as thinkers and problem solvers. Science is a gateway to higher-order thinking just like math or ELA.
How does KIPP NJ support your work and development as an educator?
One of the ways they supported our work this year is through a grant. This year, we’ve partnered with Amazon and First Robotics to provide our scholars with the opportunity to have computer science as a course—not just as an elective—as well as to experience robotics. That partnership allows our students to develop the 21st century skills they need to thrive in the workplace.
But they also support my development by sending me to attend out of network professional development. For example, I go to the National Science Teachers Association’s professional development at which I’m able to meet with other science educators across the country to gain perspective on the work of science education. In addition, we have a regular network-wide PD sessions called One Team One Sound that helps us further our practice.
I’ve also found great joy in training other teachers to become effective educators in the classroom through my work in the Teacher in Residence program! Through this program, I have had the pleasure of working with KIPP TEAM Academy’s new teachers to ensure they receive the support necessary to become effective educators. I lead bi-weekly professional development sessions, devise plans that help teachers become proficient in classroom management, discipline internalization, and instructional skills—as well as connect teachers with our department chairs and the most effective educators in the building.
Intisar Hatcher-Wright is a science and pre-AP Biology teacher at KIPP TEAM Academy. Like other educators at KIPP Newark, she receives at least 300 hours of engaging professional development and personal coaching throughout the school year to continually sharpen her skills.
Interested in joining Intisar on the journey to inspire a love of science learning in our students? Head here to review current opportunities: jobs.kippnj.org