Parul Matani grew up in Michigan and was enthralled with science at a young age. She began a career in cell research but quickly realized her passion lies in teaching others about the science she already knew and loved. This newfound mission took her to Cambridge Rindge and Latin School where she taught biology before transitioning to the high school this year. She is excited to show her biology students a fun and interactive learning experience.
What made you want to become a biology teacher?
I loved science, and I was doing cell biology research. I loved learning about it, but as the years went on, the drive to repeat the same experiment many times and get a certain result wasn’t as interesting as talking about the science with other people. I started assistant teaching and tutoring, and I realized that drove me much more than doing the science itself.
What was your high school experience like and how did that affect your teaching style?
My high school experience was pretty standard, old-style teaching. There were lectures; in science there were labs. My favorite teachers were the ones that got really excited about the science, and that definitely has been part of what I try to do. Over the years I have learned that old-school lectures and tests are not the best way to teach. It is because it adds rigor to the academics, but I think “doing” is definitely how most students learn.
If you could go back to high school, how would you have wanted to learn science?
It depends. My favorite class had tons of labs, and the teacher was wacky. He was very excited and super silly and even threw Mendel’s Peas at us one time to have us pick them up off the floor to see the wrinkled vs. round. I would love to be that uninhibited, but he was nuts. Another teacher marched through the book, and it was dry and boring. I also had one teacher who didn’t call on the girls in the class, so I definitely am for reaching every student and having every student be heard.
How is your work important to you?
It’s why I get up every day. Nothing else drives me as much as a bunch of students waiting for a lesson, an activity, a lab or just to chat.
What do you want your students to feel when they are in your class, and what do you want them to take away when they leave?
I’d like them to feel curious and have questions, but it depends on the student. One might fall in love with biology and go into a career in biology. Another might think about their own life and things that affect their life through a scientific lens and might be able to make decisions based on that, whether it’s decisions about caring for the environment, their own health or political opinions – it could be anything. I want every student to take away something that is significant to them.