My Teaching Philosophy

Emily - Worcester, Massachusetts
Entered on March 12, 2008

I believe in instilling an appreciation of science in all of my students. I have always loved science and have been absolutely fascinated with all sorts of everyday scientific phenomena. By exposing students to ‘cool science’ in their everyday lives, I believe that I can make even the most stubborn student exclaim, ‘Wow, that’s really cool!’ By making soda with my students to demonstrate fermentation and examining local pond water under the microscope, students can see and appreciate the science in their everyday lives.

I believe in scientific literacy. More than ever, people need to be able to make informed decisions regarding topics in science. Stem cells, cloning, and DNA technology are constantly in the news. I want my students to become informed citizens and be able to make decisions on controversial scientific topics based on scientific evidence.

I believe that all students can be successful science students. I understand that my students have different strengths and weaknesses and that a learning style that works for one student won’t necessarily work for another. As a result, I employ a variety of teaching and assessment tools in my class. We have watched movies, done experiments, played games, had class discussions, completed readings, and had lectures. Students can demonstrate their knowledge and understanding to me not just on their unit tests, but also through lab reports, answers to daily starter questions, in class discussions, and by completing their homework.

I believe that science class can be fun. I realize that some students have negative views of science class and that it is my job to prove them wrong. To making learning fun, we have made soda in class, watched interesting movies such as Cane Toads and The Human Face, and played review games. We have done labs that allow students to measure their own lung capacities and pulse rates. Such activities are fun for students because they are able to learn more about themselves.

I believe that science is readily applicable to the students’ everyday lives and it’s just a matter of making them aware of it. Making connections to student’s daily lives is a good way of demonstrating the relevance of what students are learning. Students at this age are very interested in themselves and their worlds, so making connections between the material and the students’ lives is a good method of engagement. Also, with all of the new vocabulary and concepts that students are exposed to, learning a science can be likened to learning a foreign language. As a result, students are better able to acquire new knowledge if they can connect it with pre-existing schemas. To connect science with students’ lives, we have learned about global warming, a pressing issue in today’s world; written about whether or not taxes should be raised to support scientific research; learned about our own anatomy and physiology; and have made connections between cellular respiration and bread-making.

I believe in the importance of getting to know my students. We are constantly told that we teach students, not just our subject area and this is really true. In order to best help my students, I need to understand their likes and dislikes as well as their strengths and weaknesses. It is important for me to know who works well with whom when creating small groups. I also need to know about the students’ prior educational backgrounds, particularly in math and science, when planning my curriculum. I need to understand how they learn best so that I can cater to their learning styles. I also like to know what topics students are interested in so that I may try to incorporate those interests in class.

Most importantly, I believe that I can create a community of young scientists in my classroom. My students do the same things that scientists do in the field. They make hypotheses, create their own experiments, analyze their results, research, read, and communicate their findings in writing. I have exposed them to biographies of scientists who have contributed to our understanding of science today with the hopes that these people will serve as models for my students. Also, just like in the field, my students are constantly collaborating. New discoveries do not happen in a vacuum. Rather, scientists need to work together to share insight and findings. My students are very comfortable in this position and truly seem to enjoy experiencing science for themselves.