Noyce Alumni Profile
Keeden Mikhail Hopkins
Undergraduate major or graduate field of study: B.S., Biology; MAT, Secondary Science Education
Name of Institution:
East Carolina University
Current teaching assignment (school and district):
Biology, Physics, Earth Science, Innovation Early College High School at East Carolina University, Pitt County Schools, Greenville, NC
What does the Noyce program mean to you:
I have worked in different STEM fields: as a university research assistant teaching lab courses; as a pharmaceutical chemist; and as a lab technician at a wastewater testing facility. Throughout all of these experiences, what I enjoyed the most was training and teaching others. It dawned on me that teaching might be my calling.
Describe your current teaching assignment:
I am the only science teacher at Innovation Early College High School (IEC HS), a new school in its second year located at East Carolina University. The high school has a four to five-year program that allows students to earn up to 60 college credit hours and apply them towards a four-year degree at an institution in the University of North Carolina system. Fifty-five students were enrolled in the first year at IEC HS and in each year after. The school is designed to help high-need, first generation students attend college. The selection process is competitive with grades and conduct being factors for admission.
My courses are taught at a level to prepare students to enter college classes after their sophomore year. Throughout the first two years at IEC HS, college faculty present introductory courses to students at the school. I am licensed to teach all sciences so am currently teaching Biology and Physics. Next semester, I will be teaching Earth Science, and the following year I expect to be teaching Chemistry along with any of the other science courses that need to be taught.
How did the Noyce program prepare you for this assignment?
The Noyce program helped me find resources and help during my first year of teaching. The program faculty told me who to contact for help and offered me different techniques to try in the classroom. The Noyce program built good comradery among everyone involved. Knowing that I wasn’t alone and talking with members of my Scholar cohort really helped me to get through the first year of teaching. The Noyce faculty were always there to support me whether it was with resources, tips on classroom management, or to share the latest breakthroughs in their research on STEM education.
Did the Noyce program at your university prepare you to use teaching strategies that can help all students learn in all settings?
The Noyce program helped reinforce what I learned during my Master’s program–that all students are different and come from various backgrounds and that I need to be aware of and sensitive to this while I am in the classroom. In my Noyce program, I was taught different exercises that would help students learn on a visual, auditory, and kinesthetic level. I practiced this during my internship to see what worked and what students preferred and found a way to incorporate all styles into the classroom.
The most important thing that I try to do for students is to make information relevant. Whether that means discussing the latest movie or television show, politics, or events on campus, it can always be related in some way back to the material in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This helps to grab students’ attention and makes them want to learn. One way I incorporate NGSS is when I teach biology. I organize information that students need to learn first from a molecular level and then build up to the whole organism and then to a worldwide view to show the class why what we are learning is important.
How do you use what you’ve learned (content and pedagogy)?
I use the knowledge I’ve received to differentiate student learning so that each student learns in a way that fits her/him. Having resources and knowledge enables me to teach material in a variety of ways to ensure that students learn in a way that is suitable for them, but that they also practice different strategies for learning that they will have to use in higher education. Whenever I teach a lesson, I try to incorporate 21st century skills such as critical thinking, technological literacy, collaboration, and social skills.
In addition to teaching, are you exploring new areas in content, teaching strategies, leadership, etc. If so, what areas and did the Noyce experience play a role:
Currently I am exploring higher level content for my courses for upperclassmen. The Noyce experience has helped me find resources and learning tools to use along the way. Noyce faculty have put me in contact with people, given me books, and sent me to conferences so I could become a better science instructor. We have monthly meetings where we catch up and talk about what we’ve been doing in the classroom. The Noyce faculty and my Scholar cohort provide strong support as I make my way through these first years of teaching. From what I have been told, the first years of teaching can be extremely difficult, but my Noyce committee has helped to make these first years better.
Describe any highlights/special achievements during these beginning years of teaching:
One of my biggest highlights so far and something I am very proud of was having 95% proficiency on end-of-course testing for my biology classes in my first year of teaching. My students’ scores were among the highest in the district. I was also honored to be selected to speak on the Voices from the Field panel at the 2019 Summit.