Are You An Exemplary Science Teacher?

What does an exemplary science teacher do? How are they different from a typical science teacher? An exemplary science teacher goes above and beyond in ensuring the engagement of their students.

I remember in many of my science classrooms, even into college, we were taught facts and processes to get us through the end of the year and through the dreaded final exams and state testing. We memorized, mastered processes, and worked for the grades and the scores. We were never truly engaged in the learning we were supposed to be doing!

What ISN’T Exemplary Science Teaching?

  • Lecturing

Students are passively receiving the information presented to them. Participation is low, if at all! You may have one to two students participating, commenting and answering questions in class. The class is generally pretty boring and students are not engaged!

  • Teacher-centered instruction

This is learning that happens when students are not creating and doing, and they are being passive learners. This is often the traditional method of teaching in any classroom, and it is not always an effective way for students to learn.

  • Banking method of education

This is where students receive information through memorization, just for it to be withdrawn later as if the student were a bank. Students only know the information because they have to have it memorized for later, and it is only the surface level that they are aware of. There is no true understanding of the content and students are not engaged in the classroom.

What IS Exemplary Science Teaching?

  • Know your students

Build rapport with your students! Get to know them and their interests, and what they enjoy in the classroom. Taking advantage of students’ interests in the classroom can increase engagement and excitement among your students! This can improve a classroom atmosphere and help increase retention of information for the students.

  • Inquiry based learning

Let students discover some of the content you’re teaching in class! Not every lesson has to be, or should be, taught through a slide presentation lecture. Students learn through curiosity, asking questions and discovering material that they are interested in. This can be open ended, or fairly guided and aligning with classroom curricula!

  • Make learning meaningful

Connect the learning students are doing to something that is important to them. You may be talking about water quality in class and how pollutants can affect wildlife in the area. This may pique the interest of a student or two, but what if you took the students to a stream to see the water quality in their own town? What if your classroom did something within the community that tied to their learning? This connects material to their everyday life and it suddenly has a deeper meaning than just learning for the grade!

  • Student Centered Activity

An activity or lesson is student centered when students are not passively receiving information. They are doing something active, whether it is just taking notes, having a discussion, or creating a physical model of an atom to learn about its components. Students are creating something rather than sitting and listening to a teacher talk at them for an hour!

How do you know you are an exemplary science teacher?

When you are an exemplary science teacher, you will see a different atmosphere in your classroom. Your students will come to class with excitement rather than dread, and they will be actively engaged in your classroom!

Becoming an exemplary science teacher does not happen over night! Be dedicated to your students and creating a student centered classroom! Check out this article from the National Association of Biology Teachers, where they talk about some of the different components of being an exemplary science teacher.

Are you an exemplary science teacher? What are some other characteristics of an exemplary science teacher that you have seen? Let me know!

Until next time!

Miss McKenna Miller


  1. Hey McKenna!
    Awesome examples of how exemplary teaching can be applied into the classroom! I think that the focus behind exemplary teaching is inquiry-based teaching which you hit on in your post! Do you feel that participation is key to creating this exemplary classroom environment? I hit on that with my post stating that this allows students to bounce ideas off of each other and really learn to express themselves. Great post and can wait to hear your response!

    • Hey! I absolutely think that participation is key. This keeps students engaged and active in your classroom. However, I do think it is important to keep in mind that participation might look different for some students. Some students may prefer to actively listen, while others are more outgoing and verbally participating in the class. I think that varying the size of group participation, having ranges of groups of 2-3, all the way up to full group discussions is a great way to get all students participating and involved in the classroom while still being mindful of what each student might need. I really think it all comes down to how well you know your students!

  2. Hey McKenna!

    I love how well you are able to bring your own student experience into your role as an educator. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on how best to balance the need for engaging forms of education — such as inquiry-based learning — with some of the time constraints of class length and even year length. Do you think there is a golden range to meet both requirements?

    • Hi Michael! I don’t think there is necessarily a standard golden range to meet both requirements. It depends on the classroom, and how well you know your students and their needs. Time is absolutely a constraint, but knowing your students in each class is so essential when it comes to engagement! You can try to tie their interests into the content, this helps keep them engaged while also making their learning more meaningful and applicable to their lives, especially during times when maybe lecturing is the best, or most efficient option. This might allow your classroom to be engaged while still hitting the standards and moving along at a pace appropriate for your class. Let me know how that works for you!

  3. Hi McKenna!

    I loved how you included what an exemplary science teacher doesn’t do, so we know what to look our for in our own classrooms. Do you think there’s ever a good time where teachers should use lecturing or student centered instruction? Does it depend on the class? I’m really interested in your thoughts!

    • Hi!! Absolutely I do, I think lecturing can be powerful when used correctly. Some topics, especially in the sciences, are most effectively taught via lecturing! However, it is when lecturing is utilized too often that it becomes an issue. Students need to DO, and to be active learners in the classroom! Lecturing constantly is boring and students sit and passively “receive” the information. Switching it up in the classroom is essential to maintaining engagement as well as retention of content.

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