Meet Our Teacher Leaders - Winnie Hsu
Meet Our Teacher Leaders
We have always been proud of our passionate group of Teacher Leaders. And during this global pandemic, we feel even more grateful for the wonderful work they do, sharing their knowledge and inspiring other educators across Canada to bring STEM into their online and in-person classrooms. Over the next few months, we would like to introduce you to some of the Teacher Leaders who are making an impact in their school communities.
Meet Winnie Hsu
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Teaching is Winnie’s true calling. She has been doing it for 20 years now, and she is all about sharing the love of science with her students. She is also sharing this love through her work as a Teacher Leader. Winnie hosts a series of weekly webinars for Early Years Educators in which she helps prepare teachers to bring fun and easy coding and STEM activities into the classroom.
What motivates you as a teacher?
Knowing that I can be a role model. I’m a positive adult in a child’s life. And I can help them and make the world a better place. There’s a quote by Lee Iacocca that I learned when I was at teacher’s college: “In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less because passing civilization on from one generation on to the next ought to be the highest honour and the highest responsibility anyone could have.” That has stuck with me all these years. Because really, what could be more important than making sure these kids are happy and safe and educated and feel like they belong?
How have you and your students adapted to the current Covid-19 situation?
There has been a really rapid pivot in my teaching and the students’ learning. The students have done really well. I’m not always successful every day, but the kids are learning and they’re mostly happy to come to class virtually or in-person. Covid has allowed me to introduce some new best practices and examine my own personal teaching practices. I have to find the best way to meet my students’ needs, not just do things the way I always have.
What inspired you to become a Teacher Leader?
I attended some of the Let’s Talk Science Professional Learning sessions, and I really enjoyed them. I got on their mailing list, and when they said they were looking for Teacher Leaders, I thought about how much I’ve grown with their sessions and how I would love to be able to share that with others as well.
What have you enjoyed most about your experience as a Teacher Leader so far?
I love learning, I like sharing, and I really appreciate that the organization respects and acknowledges my expertise with support and resources. It really makes me feel like I’m valued. And I also really enjoy meeting educators from across the country.
When it comes to hosting webinars for Let’s Talk Science, what do you find most rewarding?
One of the most rewarding things is that I’m learning new skills. In order to facilitate, I have to make myself knowledgeable. I have to experience and try things out first. And the other thing is how positive feedback has been, how pleased educators have been, and how beneficial and fun it has been. This delivery model has been so successful. It’s working really well.
If a fellow educator asked why they should attend one of the webinars, what would you say?
The best thing I could say is you will meet other people and you will learn something new. You will always be able to take something away, whether it be for your profession, your classroom, or your life.
Why do you believe it’s more important than ever to bring coding and other STEM lessons into even the youngest classrooms?
I think—and this is backed by educational research—that the younger children are when they start with a language, the more comfortable they will be with it. Learning coding is like learning another language as it has all the hallmarks: syntax, vocabulary, punctuation, cultural rules, functional use rules, etc. The more students become familiar with the operations, vocabulary and manipulating of the language of coding, the more effective they can become at utilizing it. Learning coding is a skill that can be taught and is a social endeavour, not an inherent ability that magically appears when students get to a developmental stage. The earlier the better for skill acquisition.
Advice for early years educators who are just starting to bring coding and other STEM activities into their classrooms?
The first thing is, just have fun. Do something that you want to do. Because the kids will pick up on that authenticity. If you think it’s fun and exciting and valuable, then they will too.
The second thing is, you want to feel safe to make mistakes so that your students also feel safe to make mistakes. Because those mistakes are lessons—and they have value. If we did everything perfectly, then we would never learn anything new. We would never take risks and nothing new would ever come about. No different way, no novel approach, no new technology… nothing new would ever happen if everyone just did it the way it has always been done. So, be free to make those mistakes. And own them. You can show the kids that you can persevere. Even if they don’t learn coding with you, they will have learned a life lesson.
Join us for a Webinar
Calling all Early Years Educators!
Do you want to learn the skills and gain the confidence to bring coding activities into your classroom? We can help. Register for a session now!