Philosophy of Education
The number one reason why I teach is because children are the future, and it’s important to create thoughtful citizens. Eventually, these students are going to become major voters in the both the locality, state, and world. These votes come in both actually voting in elections, and voting for products in the form of money. For me, it’s important to teach students about the scientific issues to prepare them for the future responsibility of being citizens.
There are a variety of ways for preparing students for the future. I always do standards-based lesson planning, to make sure I am covering the topics that are dictated by both the state and national frameworks. While I do think these topics are important, it’s also my interest to have students know what is currently happening in science. That’s why each week my students have a current event due from the Science Daily or other current scientific research website about what is currently developing in science. Students use evidence from the article to make strong arguments about current events and how it relates to the future.
Standardized tests are a way to make both students and teachers accountable to be able to vote in the future. These tests are treated as a summative assessment, as compared to my classroom, which has a heavy focus on formative assessment. I currently use a student response system to gather basal data as to what my students currently understand about the particular scientific concept that I’m teaching. I then use this data to guide student understanding on projects and other performance-based tasks. My class tends to be more about understanding and solving problems than memorization of scientific principles.
Inequities are a major part of both school and the world. It’s impossible to grade each student without looking at them as an individual. I currently teach in a completely heterogenous school, and my lessons focus on differentiation to each student’s needs. I communicate heavily with special education personnel to ensure that they are up to date on my expectations for class.
Race and ethnicity are also an inequity in the classroom. In science, there is currently a gap, and many women and minorities are not pushed into working into STEM careers. Part of the summer experiences that I’ve participated in have had the focus of creating relevant connections to this students as a means to drive them towards a STEM career. My aim is to open the door to students so that they are interested in science as a lifelong endeavor.
As for classroom management, I make rules with my students during the first day of classes. We created a poster together, which remains posted for the school year. I do have a few non-negotiable rules, which will be no use of cell phones at any point during class, no headphones in while we’re learning new material, and of course-safety rules. Students not following the classroom rules will be talked to, but not in front of their peers. This helps students become comfortable with me, and realize that a conversation is happening; they are not being yelled at.
Classroom climate is another major part of my classroom. Students are always encouraged to share their opinion and their thinking in front of the class. Other students are asked to respect and reflect on what their peers are saying. It’s okay to be “wrong” in my classroom, as many scientists had to prove what didn’t work to get to the point where they realized what would work. Furthermore, I like to start the year with an article titled “The Stupidity of Science” in which we discuss what it means to be productively stupid.
Very often, the students with the highest scores in class have the most involved parents. These parents go to open house, parent teacher conferences, and awards nights. They email the teachers when their student gets a low grade on a test. I have worked to engage parents through a variety of means, including email, and attending school and community functions. Another point in which I contact parents is based on when a student does well on an assignment- I try to reach out to each parent so that they can also celebrate the achievement of their student.
My classroom is centered around students becoming engaged citizens, able to think for themselves and evaluate the positives and negatives of issues related to the sciences. Students will eventually be voting on issues that will affect their state, country, and the world as a whole. It’s important to note that my classroom is never intended to have students memorize material, or think the same way that I do on issues. My classroom is aimed to educate them on topics, which will affect society for the years to come. I hope we are able to work together to create future scientists and engineers that solve societal problems.