Just in time for back to school, Bill Gates shared excerpts from his interview with Nate Bowling. Nate is the 2016 Teacher Of The Year for Washington State and was a finalist for the National Teacher of the Year. 

Nate teaches at a school where 70% of the students live in poverty. Typically such a situation results in high rates of drop-out but during the 2015-16 school year, EVERY student that Nate advised was accepted to college or vocational school!

The information that Nate shares in the blog post and accompanying video offer helpful tips for all teachers – I would like to highlight three of Nate’s points…

  1. First - Nate considers it his job to grow his students into ‘nerds’.  He says - “I joke about being a nerd farmer, I’m trying to cultivate a kind of scholarship in students, and a passion for learning.”
  2. Second – Nate works to show students the relevance of what they are learning in school and how it impacts them. He shares an example - “If I came in the classroom and said ‘today we are going to learn about Federalism’ they don’t care. But if I come in and say ‘today we’re talking about Federalism and here’s how it impacts you – it impacts who you can marry and cannot marry, it impacts voter registration requirements, it impacts how police are regulated – then they are listening. Its about that relevance.”
  3. Third – Nate makes the argument that teachers are needed to prepare students for all other careers. He states - “We don’t treat teachers like the treasures they are. Every other career field is created by teachers. You don’t have app designers, you don’t have environmental chemists without teachers.”

Since the founding of Couragion 1.5 years ago, we have had the pleasure of working with ‘nerd farmers’ like Nate.  One of our STEM coordinators creates innovative, hands-on STEM projects and has students complete a relevant Couragion Career Quest that maps to each of her units. For example – she used the Landscape Architect Quest to demonstrate the real-world relevance of the class’ architecture unit. While one of the counselors that uses Couragion, pairs the app with the workforce readiness training she provides students. She uses the app to expose students to potential career fields and to have them complete activities that will prepare them for working in those fields. Our partner teachers understand that to create nerds they must show students the applicability of their coursework and get them excited about how they will use their school knowledge in future careers.

So what about you – are you a ‘nerd farmer’? How are you cultivating a passion for learning in your students? What are you doing to create the next generation of doctors, scientists, engineers, etc.?  We’d love to hear your best practices – email us at info at Couragion.com.

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