Student Experience: Q&A with Teacher Candidate Katarina Rolf
Where are you from?
St. Paul, MN
What is your favorite thing to do in Boston/Cambridge?
Eat donuts and hang out at bookstores.
What is your science or math background?
I’ve had a lot of experience with biology, ranging from studying humpback whales in Panama to studying frogs with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute to teaching marine science aboard a tallship. My academic experience comes from majoring in biology at Carleton College.
Why did you choose the WW Academy?
I wanted to be at an institution that would critically consider and re-imagine what it means to prepare teachers to create just and equitable classrooms.
What has been the best part about your time at the WW Academy so far?
For a few weeks, all of the biology teacher candidates would get together at Toscanini’s, an ice cream shop that happens to be a five-minute walk from our main office, and pick a Massachusetts state standard to unpack. These conversations have been some of the most creative, fruitful ways that I have been able to engage with my chosen content area. We’ve explored why wombats have cube-shaped poop (the Naked Scientist did a podcast to help us answer this question!), what photosynthesis actually means, and why anyone should know about DNA replication.
What has been the most challenging thing and how are you working/have worked to overcome it?
Translating my ideas into reality. I think this is something that everyone struggles with, but I’ve found that the visions in my head, on paper, or otherwise almost never align with what happens with real humans. I’m trying to observe myself and my students more so that I can pinpoint where my translations are falling short or working well.
What do you hope to do after you complete your M.Ed. at the WW Academy?
The biggest principles I want in my future learning community are equity, inquiry, and student-centered learning. A lot of these are unfortunately ill-defined buzzwords, but my aspiration is to work at a school like one of our partners.
Why should others consider the WW Academy program?
The people at the Academy are some of the most dedicated, passionate, creative individuals in education that I’ve ever met. It’s amazing to be surrounded by so many like-minded individuals working towards the same goal: changing our schools by being the best teachers we can imagine.
How is the program shaping your idea of what it means to be a good teacher?
The most important lesson I’ve learned from this program is that there are a lot of “right” ways to be a teacher. Each person needs to figure out who they are and how that can support their long-term goals for the kinds of learners they want to be shaping.