Blakely Island teaches the teacher

Photo by Jessica Hancock
Doug McCulloch utilizes his photography skills during the class nature walk.

Going to Blakely Island with his Introduction to Biology class with Elena Brezynski, PhD, on the weekend of May 4 to 6, Doug McColluch was reminded of those trips he used to take when he was younger.

“I truly believe that the best way to learn something is to experience it, and I definitely came away from this trip knowing the class content better than when I went into it,” he said. “There was also the added bonus of being in one of the most beautiful places on earth.”

For him, the main takeaway from his time on Blakely Island is realizing that when he takes his future classes on a field trip, he does not necessarily need to make sure his students know everything beforehand. It is perfectly okay teaching while in the field.

With this style of teaching, he also believes that the trip solidified the information and learning, and he is not more likely able to remember what he learned and teach it to his future students.

Previously, McCulloch was set on studying musical theatre, but once he realized he did not want to constantly audition and fight for a job, he took time to reflect and really think about what he wanted to do in the future. During this time, he got a job coaching gymnastics.

“At that job I realized that I had a passion for teaching, and that my favorite students were the ones that gave me the most work figuring out how to teach them,” MCCulloch remembers. “I think that being a special education teaching is something of a calling, and I heard the call and answered.”

Now as a special education major, McCulloch is learning all the content needed to teach a K-12 education, as well as the best ways to approach education for students with different disabilities.

Photo by Jessica Hancock
McCulloch with his small group at the tide pools, discussing how to create a chart for younger children to understand organisms.

Growing up, he attended a “Waldorf school,” which emphasizes that learning happens naturally.

“So when we were studying geology in sixth grade, we went to Mount St. Helens for a week. When we were studying astronomy, we went to Eastern Washington,” McCulloch explained.

But his favorite memories are from early school years when his class would go on walks every morning, to somewhere different each day. During those times, they just got to be kids, he recalled.

“I think that being in the middle of something is the best way to learn about it,” McCulloch said. “Before this trip I couldn’t tell the difference between most of the things that we saw, but after this trip I notice the little differences that make them unique and I am sure that I will do better on the next test in Biology because of it.”

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