I teach because I love helping people. I love inspiring creativity and divergent thinking in my students. Teaching is fun, dynamic, and challenging work that provides a mix of instant and prolonged feedback as I interact with students, parents, and colleagues. To inspire learning and to witness the “light bulb” moments that take place as students make information and instruction personal can be addictive. Working to make these moments happen with greater frequency is a task that requires a tremendous amount of creativity, caring, listening, patience, and energy. I believe teaching is a calling to inspire students to use their gifts so as to achieve their full potential.
As a science teacher I get to design material around phenomena that most of my students are already somewhat curious about. The trick is to foster that curiosity into skills they can use long after the class has ended. Lessons must be relevant to my students, which means I must know what they’re interested in and what motivates them to learn. I think students best construct meaning and learn when they are given the opportunities to investigate. Why tell students what should happen when they can be guided to observe, discover, and make connections themselves?
My classroom is setup so students can work together in small groups. This allows me to circulate and help guide them through their work, which effectively shrinks the class size and provides me with a tremendous amount of information regarding their individual progress. By continually assessing my students, I can provide them timely feedback and encouragement, which increases their confidence in the skills they are learning. Numbers on a paper aren’t the only way we can do this. Direct conversations and giving students opportunities to explain material to me and to others can be just as powerful (if not more so). I believe re-assessment opportunities are also powerful ways to communicate progress and growth to my students.
The ease with which my students can utilize various resources (online, textbooks, and their peers, for example has helped transform my style of teaching from simply delivering content to a combination of open-ended inquiry and modeling instruction. As a result, I am able to spend more time guiding my students through their projects and problems than standing and delivering material to the entire class.
My classes are dynamic and high-energy. We have fun; I believe humor is very important in teaching. It helps relieve the stress and anxiety inherent in the life of a teenager. All of this helps me connect with each of my students. It’s hard to hide in my class. I make every effort to contact and work with each and every one of my students on a daily basis. Shrinking class size by developing and fostering relationships with each and every one of my students is an approach I have taken to increase my students’ academic confidence and performance.