SHS science teacher encourages critical thinking for his students

Autumn Owens Twitter @aowensETnews
Steven Rains, SHS physics teacher, has been getting a jump start using technology in his classroom after receiving a grant. He is excited to see what the future in technology holds for the high school.

Steven Rains started his teaching career at Stephenville High School in 2013 and has taught biology, IPC, earth and space and now has chosen to take on physics.

“Kathleen Huckabee was my chemistry teacher and I remember on day one of my class with her she took out a $20 bill and said, ‘Does anybody need any money?’” Rains said. “She lit it on fire right in front of us and we just flipped out. There’s a solution you can put on it where it burns the water in the solution and then the flame is put out, so the $20 bill was OK.”

Rains was hooked.

He attended Tarleton State University and went through the education program landing his first job at Huston Academy where he taught chemistry, IPC, physics and algebra.

“I was about to have my son and a job opening came up in Stephenville and so I inquired about it and it was just a flash,” Rains said. “I had my son over Christmas break and by the start of the new semester (2013) I was at Stephenville High School teaching biology and earth and space.”

As most know, Stephenville ISD has started its iChampion initiative making devices available to all students in the district. This is something that Rains got a jump start on after receiving a grant from Jacksonville State University in partnership with Tarleton.

The Department of Education gave Jacksonville State a $12 million grant to spread across states and with one of the Tarleton education department heads getting his degree from Jacksonville, Tarleton was selected to participate.

“Julie Ward over there is in charge of the core program for Tarleton and she was the one who contacted us,” Rains said. “In the long run I thought if I could get some direction to help with my students’ critical thinking, then I would love to do it and I got picked.”

Rains received iPads to use in his classroom following the model provided by Jacksonville State.

“Ahead of time I’ve got devices when no one else does, so I’m trying all these programs,” he said. “So when the time comes around and every student has a device - which is the plan next year - then I can give some feedback to the teachers.”

As far as his teaching style goes, Rains wants his students to leave his classroom being able to think on their own.

“When I first started I was letting kids go away and they couldn’t critically think - they couldn’t make the decisions themselves. They relied on me - almost treating me as Google in the classroom,” Rains said. “They would come to me as if they were trying to check themselves.”

So Rains had to change his method of thinking as a teacher.

“Teaching really turns into getting the kids - whatever the content may be - to understand how to think through something. My ultimate goal is to get them to think,” he said. “If they can walk away from me thinking and making educated decisions, then I’m set and I’ve done my job."