Science | Joel Hawes
I have the pleasure of working with the pre-kindergarten through second grade science students, while also serving as the Lower School Director. My undergraduate studies at the University of Maine included a major in Elementary Education and a minor in Learning Disabilities.
My Boston University graduate coursework includes Master’s degrees in Science Education and in School Leadership. I am entering my thirteenth year at Berwick Academy. Prior to current employment, I worked at Tenacre Country Day School in Wellesley, Massachusetts in various instructional and administrative roles. I began teaching school in Bangor, Maine as a sixth grade middle school teacher and have also worked as a reading instructor and program coordinator with the Boston Community Schools. Besides my work at Berwick, I love my family time in Eliot, Maine and exploring the area on bike rides, hikes and running routes. Gardening, kayaking and reading are also engaging pursuits during down-time opportunities.
Describe your classroom in five words: My classroom is a safe, engaging, hands-on, fun and exploratory-based place to learn.
Why do you love teaching science?
Science study allows for high engagement and enthusiasm for content knowledge and for active exploration. I love seeing students’ natural enthusiasm come to life when we engage in a classroom or outdoor exploration. It is refreshing to see that this natural sense of wonder is ever-present in our students. The growth in skills and knowledge that students demonstrate from grade to grade is also a pleasure to observe.
How do you define great teaching?
Great teaching occurs when teachers’ promote a purposeful combination of high-interest topics with a logical flow of learning experiences, while also taking the strengths, challenges and social needs of their students into account. Great teaching typically follows a flow of lessons that begins with skill/knowledge development, then places the skills/knowledge into specific practice applications and finally utilizes the skills/knowledge in authentic problem solving scenarios. Great teaching is alive and fluid, rather than predictable and static. It evolves with specific student, classroom and school needs, while also maintaining a bigger-picture foundational philosophy that guides teaching/learning on a daily and yearly basis.
What is your favorite thing about the Lower School?
I love the “summer camp feeling” that is inherent in our Division throughout the school year. Students and adults love working together in ways that promote a gestalt of high-energy and engagement. At the foundation of our endeavor is a respect for the social-emotional needs of individual community members and of our School as a whole. Next, an engaging alignment of core curricula, unified exploration classes and special events bring meaning to the Lower School experience. Ultimately, the dedicated and respectful exchange between students, families and faculty/staff make our daily experiences so enjoyable throughout the school year.