“Exemplary teachers illuminate the path to achievement, believing the best way to predict a child’s future is to help create it.”
-Robert John Meehan
Author Robert John Meehan has affectionately been known as “the voice of the American teachers” and this quote about sums it up! Getting students to understand material and test on subjects well is only average, at best. To be exemplary, teachers need to guide students to be the best they can be; teachers shouldn’t be dictators, and they certainly should not be omniscient either. To be an exemplary teacher, we must be willing to learn alongside the students. We must create lasting relationships and trust with our students to help “illuminate their path to achievement.”
The goal of this post is to explore different techniques to adopt into our lesson plans to take science teaching from average to exemplary. I would like to outline three different techniques to try:
- Be open to suggestions/questions
- Be creative with lessons
- Be willing to connect with students
Be Open to Suggestions/Questions
There is nothing worse than feeling patronized or belittled as a student. As teachers, we need to ensure that students feel fully comfortable to voice their opinions/suggestions on any topic in class. Some ideas to help accomplish this are:
- Establish an open dialogue between the whole class; in science classes this can range anywhere from the scientific method to ideas and beliefs on evolution.
- Encourage students to share their opinions without judgement; once students start feeling judged by their peers, or even worse their teachers, their trust and comfort are stripped from the classroom environment
- Be okay with being wrong! Not only will this help us learn more as educators, but also it models to students that it is okay to be wrong; we are all learning and growing as a unit
Be Creative With Lessons
If you think back on some of your most memorable activities throughout your educational experience, what were some that came to mind? Was it that worksheet on Chapter 3: Cells and Cellular Processes? Nope, me either. More like making a model of the TRP operon out of pipe cleaners and beads or drawing out the process of photosynthesis in a layer of shaving cream on top of desks. We, as educators, need to use creative thinking to come up with something memorable and impactful for our students to ensure they get a deeper understanding of criteria. Catherine Thimmesh so eloquently explains how to bring creativity in the classroom in her TED talk “Creativity in the classroom (in 5 minutes or less!)” Take a look below!
Be Willing to Connect with Students
It is so important for teachers to foster a relationship with our students. This will allow students to feel a sense of safety and trust in their school environment; they will feel more inclined to participate and potentially more motivated to work hard towards their specific goals. It is our jobs as teachers to know these specific goals and be able to guide students in the right direction while also being accommodating to each of their specific needs.
All in all, there are so many ways to reach average teaching to exemplary teaching. The broad take aways include being more open to student suggestion, creativity, and genuine relationships with students. All of these factors create a more positive environment in the classroom and allow students to feel more comfortable rising to their full potential. As Robert John Meehan said, we, as teachers, need to guide students to start creating their futures from the first day of class, to the last.
Hey Lauren! I thought your blog post was very interesting! I really appreciated the part where you talked about being open to questions and allowing yourself and your students to make mistakes. I also liked the idea of the necessity of creativity in the classroom. Have you thought of any creative biology activities that you might use in your classroom someday?
I loved how you started off with that quote from Robert John Meehan, it was a great introduction to the points you explored. Furthermore, I enjoyed what you had to say about infusing creativity into our classrooms. I liked that you used the words memorable and impactful to highlight your stance. In the Ted Talk with Catherine Thimmesh, she gave great examples of how to be flexible when fostering an environment that allows student’s creativity to unfold, versus just asking students to think outside the box. With some of the examples she gave, for instance, the object activity, it got me thinking how that could be great in a science classroom exploring various phenomena out in nature. Also, I am curious, with that first image you used in your blog, why did you choose that photo? What does it mean to you? What stands out to you in that photo? I’d love to hear your thoughts.