- What is the characteristic that most defines Miss Juanita’s personality and why?
I think that something that characterizes me is my energy. Those who have had the opportunity spend time with me may notice that I have an excess of energy and that I laugh for everything. Being honest, I am Hyperactive, for me isn’t impossible to have an excess of energy! Well, I really consider that every day is a gift so I choose every morning to be my best version to be happy and make others happy.
- When did you decide to become a science teacher? Why?
This is perhaps one of the first stories that I tell my students when we first meet them. It wasn’t my plan, in fact I quite remember that in school and when I chose to study biology I said: “NOOO I couldn’t be a teacher, I don’t have that level of patience, I would go crazy!” A little over three years ago, my first experience as a teacher was at Universidad del Rosario, I taught classes in the first semesters there and I noticed that I enjoyed the the class, however I felt strange because I was not like the rest of my colleagues. After that I went for a short time to work as a researcher at University of California and I considered myself a happy human being. Imagine, as a biologist in one of the best universities learning about entomology and genetic evolution, was the best experiences of my life. In fact, after that experience, I believed and considered that this would be my field of action, however when I returned to the country I found the reality of many professions, there is no work in what we dream or believe in at that moment we are passionate about it. That changed my life, they called me from a school in Bogotá to offer me a place as a science teacher for pre-primary (4th to 7th), I considered it much more as a recent graduate, I understood that I should take advantage of it.
I started my new class super nervous and without the idea of how to teach. So I decided that the best thing I could do wasn’t become those boring teachers I remembered from my childhood, and I did indeed fall in love with teaching. Today I don’t see myself doing something different.
- What is the biggest challenge you feel you have gone through as a teacher?
I think I have had two quite challenging moments, the first one starting to teach classes when you have trained your whole life to do research or speak with a language that is too formal and squared. It took me a lot to let go of that scientist mold to allow the professor Juanita to leave.
And the second, without a doubt this situation. I NEVER considered the possibility of going through a pandemic, I never imagine that I had to teach virtual lessons! I am used to giving classes full of games and experiments, where there is noise and movement all the time.
Of course, it has been a challenge of the way that I teach, It is a task that now requires much more planning than before, more creativity and indeed, much more energy! It is challenging, exhausting however seeing what we are achieving as a grade and community literally makes me cry with happiness.
- One of the characteristics that most defines your lessons is creativity. Do you have a special methodology?
Being honest, I have always believe that learning should be a process, something that I tell the guys a lot is that I flatly refuse to be one of those teachers from years ago who only made us read, memorize and answer questions that after the exam no longer he knew how to answer. I also believe that science allows us to be children forever, it leads us to be curious all the time and discover a number of things every day! For the same reason, I consider that science should not remain in the scientific community, which is something that happens a lot! but on the contrary it must be available to everyone! It must have a language that we all understand, because in the long run we are doing science daily without noticing it.
How do i do it? well that’s a question that I don’t even know how to answer. I think that I always put my personality in each class and constantly think of experiences that generate such an impact on the boys that they do not forget anything in the world because it led them to analyze and establish a relationship beyond the basics. Every game, every “madness” has an end, it’s like a treasure hunt. I think of each unit as a game of a couple of weeks where I give clues to the boys, however in the end it is they who surprise me with the complex mental constructions they generate.
- What is the message that do you leave for your students who want to focus on biology and science in their future?
Biology, and any branch of science, is a magical universe. Every day as scientists we give ourselves the opportunity to be children again, to ask questions, to be curious and play to reach a conclusion. Obviously, if it were up to me, I would like everyone to be biologist, however, it seems more important to me to tell students in general that in life is for being happy ever and doing what we really passionate about. Study or work on something that moves every fiber of your body, don’t worry about anything else because when we do what we love, the rest of things come. I remember a lot that my friends said that I was going to starve to be a biologist and, here among us, obviously I am excessively happy, I love my job, I love my career and OBVIOUS I am not starving hahaha It sounds hippie, however it is the truth.