“Exemplary teachers will always care more about the people their students will become than the scores on the tests they take”Robert John Meehan
But what exactly makes up an exemplary teacher? You could ask many different teachers that same question and find yourself with varying answers. But why don’t we ask ourselves, “why can’t there be multiple answers?”
Many educators talk about the importance of scaffolding in education. It is a flexible way to teach our students today and flexibility is one of the key foundations of an exemplary teacher.
The Foundations of Exemplary Teaching Involves Multiple Answers:
- Flexibility: Science, in its nature, is constantly in a state of flux. Nothing is ever “proven” or absolute when it comes to any study of science. Therefore, if science is constantly being flexible to new ideas or evidence, we, as science teachers, must be flexible as well. Whether it is being flexible to your students needs, adjusting the lesson plan to accommodate students who are struggling, or scaffolding different techniques to better help different types of learners, you must be flexible to your students’ needs in an ever-changing environment of science and education.
- Knowing what it’s like to be a student: The best teachers are the ones that learn alongside their students. In order to be an exemplary teacher, one has to learn their students just as well as they know the subject matter. Things like how a student best learns, how they deal with stress, and even what their favorite song is goes a long way to best compiling a lesson plan that effectively teaches each student and developing a trusting relationship between you and your students.
- “Being hands off”: Now this might sound scary to a lot of teachers as many of our educational experiences involve the teacher being the expert and the student banking whatever information the teacher lectures. The reason why many of us know how to drive a car or ride a bike so well is because after a little bit of guidance, they learned to let us go and we learned to “fly away”. Once we start seeing our jobs as facilitators and not dictators, we’ll start noticing more of our students to “fly” at greater heights.
- Being memorable and inspiring true science: No matter how much your students love science, no student is going to remember the answer to question 11Q in chapter 14 of “Physics for Scientists & Engineers”. Authentic science involves requires your brain, your hands, and your peers to be active. Allowing students to engage in a group experiment that involves inquiry will go a long way for students to understand concepts like momentum instead of a 15 question online assignment due before midnight.
Real World Activity:
Allow your student to apply their knowledge of 2D-kinematics by providing them with an adjustable ramp, a ball, a stopwatch, measuring tape, and a plastic cup.
With those materials, challenge them to get the ball to drop into the cup with the ramp placed on top of a table using their knowledge of 2D-kinematic equations.
The height of the ramp and the distance of the cup to the edge of the table is completely up to the student!