Tea Time with Darin Erickson

Mr. Erickson, science teacher at NP, keeps a positive perspective on distance learning. Read this Tea Time to find out about his ideal vacation and his favorite classroom moments!

1. What do you teach?

 I am a teacher in our science department, specifically I teach biology CP and a biotechnology elective.

2. What made you want to become a teacher?

I graduated from college with a biology degree and wasn’t really certain what I wanted to do with it… so the summer after my junior year of college and the summer after my senior year of college, I was a camp counselor at a church outdoor camp and it was all grade levels…Each week we worked with an older and older group of kids until we got to high school. I just really found those weeks with the high school kids very, very rewarding, so that experience coupled with some of my close friends, including my wife, were already in teaching. I thought, let’s give it a try, so I did! And the hook was set, I fell in love with it. It’s been an absolutely tremendous career for me. I’ve just really really enjoyed it. Yeah, even now, as exhausting and challenging as times are right this moment, I still find it to be very, very enjoyable. 

3. What has been the hardest and easiest part about teaching online?

The hardest part is the planning and preparation, particularly taking activities…and figuring out a way to tailor it to remote instruction. Be that as it may, I’m unbelievably blessed to work with some of the hardest working, collaborative people that I’ve ever worked with in my career, here at NP. Our science department, we take great pride in that, so that’s been an immense blessing. 

4. Has anything been easy or has it all just been more challenging?

I guess little things like not having to worry about collecting papers, since everything is turned in electronically. We have been doing a lot of flipped classroom, so I could lecture 4 times a day on something, live, but that gets immensely exhausting. We’ve decided to focus our efforts from a live standpoint on checking for understanding and reinforcement, which potentially means I don’t have to talk as much. 

5. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I used to go scuba diving. I haven’t done it in a long time, so I would love to explore some of these Pacific islands, even Australia, and scuba dive there. See the biodiversity that’s found in a lot of these places, from a standpoint of the reefs and the coral and the range of fish, that’s something I hope to do sometime in my life.

6. What is your funniest class/teacher moment, whether it was years ago or recent?

I’ve had a few moments where a surprise has happened… when I can have a little fun with students of mine in class. I have a few “pets”, I call them, in one of my drawers. I’ve got a monitor lizard that’s essentially a real replica of a monitor lizard, and they’re a pretty good sized lizard. Then I’ve got a replica of..I believe it’s called…the banana spider. It’s a type of tarantula in South America that’s almost as big as a dinner plate, it’s a huge spider. So a kid has been known to discover one of those friends on their chair when they walk into class, and they get the startles. That’s been one of my highlights, to shock them a little.