What it Takes: Exemplary Science Teacher

Engaged learners help to create an exciting classroom! The support provided by the instructor is critical to the classroom’s success, and can better help take learning to the next level if facilitated appropriately.

Why be an exemplary science teacher? Exemplary science teaching is transforming a lesson into a meaningful, engaging opportunity for students to be excited to learn. Having peaked the students’ interests, teachers can incorporate hands on activities in the classroom that will impact their experience with that content much more than a lecture would. To recognize when a classroom is led by an exemplary teacher, a good rule of measurement is student engagement. Visually, students should be participating in conversation, asking questions, and relating their findings to their prior knowledge.

How will I incorporate this in my own class? When I have a classroom of my own, I plan to incorporate different techniques to help increase my student engagement. In the Exemplary Science Teacher chapter, Elizabeth Horsch explains how her students went from asking, “will it be on the test?” to “how do we know what we know?” She was able to transform her class into a place of wondering, rather than a place of lecturing. She did this by incorporating learning through inquiry, hands on, and student-led activities. Walter Sharp was effective in the way he was able to incorporate parents in the science classroom. He made resources available for parents/guardians as well as extended communication on how they can help their students with science at home.

Let’s consider the alternative. Take a chance to watch Danny Doucette explain how teachers are not properly implementing science content that students can relate to in their own life. He goes on to explain how scientific demonstrations are not engaging enough for students, and the approaches to raising new scientists and engineers is setting society backwards. Assessments such as multiple choice tests do not allow for students to ask questions, develop a hypothesis, or conduct an experiment to showcase their knowledge. Solutions include incorporating the usage of projects, group collaborations, portfolios, etc. By changing the way science is assessed in schools, teachers are one step closer to bringing memorable experiences to their students.

The takeaway. As an educator, inspiring students to want to learn is of the utmost importance. Making a classroom environment that welcomes different ideas, encourages diversity, and is a safe space for sharing/asking questions can help create more meaningful learning experiences for students. Allowing students to have a say in their learning while simultaneously having the guide of their teacher can leave an impact on the student for long after the content is addressed.


  1. Hey Max! Thanks. As a science teacher, it’s not only important to assess knowledge on what they know, but how they can apply that to the world around them. Incorporating hands-on activities and labs can really help encourage critical thinking skills in the classroom. In order to assess their knowledge of different scientific concepts, I think weaning away from multiple-choice exams and including more extended response opportunities can be very beneficial.

  2. Hi Maddie, I really enjoyed reading specifically your section about what it looks like to not be exemplary. This was a new view of thinking about the consequences of my teaching practices and of me cultivating who I want to be as a teacher. I really enjoy looking at who I am working to become as a teacher from as many views as I can because there are so many different facets to how we teach and the decisions we have to make every day. Teaching definitely isn’t this formulated profession and there is definitely no one right way. I always go back and forth on assessments of my students. It is honestly really difficult to find what the best options are, and this is something I think I will only find once I have had the chance to put my work into practice. I know multiple-choice tests are not the best option, but for many aspects, a classic paper-pencil test at the end is the only way I know/have experienced it. I wonder how I can incorporate different forms of assessment while still preparing my students for the unfortunate high stakes tests they will have to take.

    • Hi Melinda, I definitely agree that teaching is a unique profession that introduces us to many different students from many different backgrounds. When learning how to properly assess them, it can be difficult with all of the different options that teachers have to work with. All multiple choice tests may be necessary for some contact, I think it’s very unique that we are able to instruct learning in a way that can be hands-on as well. Students better retain information when they are able to work hands-on with it, especially with teacher instruction. I’m excited for when we get to go in the classroom and really get to experience hands-on learning for ourselves.

  3. Hi Maddie!! I really enjoy your blog post. It is organized very well and easy to follow. Your use of images, and video provided great examples to back up your thoughts on this topic. More specifically I liked your interpretation of what an exemplary science teacher is and how to recognize it in the classroom. Student engagement is so huge when trying to determine if exemplary teaching is taking place in a classroom, so I’m glad you mentioned that in your post. You mention that in your future classroom, you plan on incorporating different techniques to help increase student engagement, what are some specific activities that you plan on doing with your students in-order to increase and promote student engagement?

    • Thanks Maya! I think it’s very important for students to be able to learn hands on. When I’m teaching, one technique that I definitely want to incorporate that we have talked about in class is encouraging students to go to the margins. While I want them to stay on task with their learning, I also want them to explore further and question everything about the world around them. Encouraging my students to ask questions and explore different answers cannot only help encourage learning, but inspire it.

  4. Hey Maddie, I liked your emphasis that an exemplary teacher moves the classroom from, “What will be on the test?” to “How do we know what we know?” This is an important step for a class to take so that students can become confident in what they are doing rather than constantly leaning on the teacher to check if what they say is correct. Because of this, I was wondering, what steps would you take to help move students from only caring about the right answer, to the process of learning in being confident in what they know?

    • Thanks! I think it’s important for any instructor to encourage the process of not only learning, but learning from failure. When students are afraid to take risks, they’ll be more willing to participate in class and share what they think a certain lesson may be about. By encouraging this process of gaining new knowledge, students will be more willing to stay involved in their own learning process and keep the conversation going.

  5. Hey Maddie. Really enjoyed reading your post. I especially liked the TED talk you included, I watched the same video and found it pretty interesting and relevant to our discussions on exemplary teaching. The inclusion of the inquiry cycle is also a great touch and gives a great example of a process by which we can start creating exemplary science teaching activities. Your comment about changing the way we assess science was something else I thought was really intriguing. I am curious how you might go about this change? How would you assess science differently to make the classroom more exemplary?

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