Happy Teachers Appreciation Week! - Marjorie Beckman
Editor’s note: It is National Teacher Appreciation Week. As part of the celebration, we profiled teachers throughout the state. Here’s one:
Marjorie Beckman, Mount Pleasant Community School District
- Grade level taught: I’m a teacher for ninth through 12th grade.
- Subjects taught: I teach culinary arts and child development.
- How many years have you been teaching: I have taught for 18 years.
Why are you passionate about teaching?
I like to see students grow and learn. I like to give them experiences that they may not have anywhere else. Many times, I have run into a student who will say “remember when this happened in class,” and then they’ll talk about how that influenced their life and career. I’ve had students go into careers in the culinary industry, start restaurants, prepare food at Hy-Vee and work at Hy-Vee corporate and specialty bakeries. It’s fun to see how students move towards careers that they weren’t fully invested in until they had the opportunity to try it.
I also feel that I have the chance to provide growth and caring for students who may not otherwise get that. It’s an important aspect of teaching.
What have you learned during the past year teaching during the pandemic?
I have become better at trying new and different modes of communication. And being older, this was sometimes a challenge. However, in some cases, it also showed me an easier way of doing things. Students have appreciated these changes.
What do you think are keys to a student’s success and how do you help foster that?
I think getting to know your students is important. Knowing what their likes are and being able to work with different personalities to get to one common goal is huge. It’s important to have a lot of hands-on activities, and for what I teach, it is easy to do. We try to have a lab three times per week so they have something to look forward to.
Connections between students are important, too. In the labs I put together, I often pair students who wouldn’t necessarily go with each other into a group, and many times, they become friends.
Over the years, how have you grown as an educator?
I’ve learned not to take life so seriously. There are a lot of road bumps along the way, and you have to find your way around them to reach your goals in teaching.
I didn’t come straight into teaching; I started in sales. But, I’ve used some of those sales techniques with the kids. It’s important to sell your program to your students – as well as the community. Some people don’t even know there is family and consumer science at the school. I’ve worked to bring light to our program and CTE (Career and Technical Education) at community events like a Thieves Market or Appetizer Night. Everyone needs to understand that family and consumer science is important. Everyone needs to know how to prepare food and how to take care of themselves.
What opportunities do you see in the next few years in education?
I think there will be a lot of changes in the way we provide information to students. Standards-based grading will become more important. Students will know they can master skills that mean something and aren’t just participating in an activity. Doing individual labs where every kid has to make something, you can see where their skills are. With standards-based grading you can show the student where they are at, and they can understand what their skills are. That’s important for community businesses, too, who are looking to hire these kids. If they have a certification in safety and sanitation or evidence of good knife skills and so forth, they will be better candidates for a job.
I also think we’ll see more food science classes in the future. With the high focus on dietary needs for people, it’ll be important for students to know where we can get those food resources, what that will taste like and how to prepare that.
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
I had two favorite teachers. The first was my family and consumer sciences teacher. She was caring and wanted to make sure we had different types of skills.
I would also say my chemistry teacher was my favorite. He was able to show us different reactions, why things go together and why things happened. I’ve used some of those lessons in life and teaching. He also helped me get ready for college and gave me the skills to know how to study.