Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Parting Tips for Your Toolbox

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Parting Tips for Your Toolbox

Article excerpt

After four years of adding tools and tips, it's time to close my "New Teacher's Toolbox." I've enjoyed sharing strategies with you and appreciate teachers who've written to share their own ideas with me. The essence of teaching is sharing with others, commiserating over challenges, and celebrating common successes. For my final column, I want to share realizations I've had during this journey that might offer needed perspective for those first years of teaching.

You will make mistakes, so ask for help. Don't fear or hide mistakes; embrace them as opportunities to grow and learn. We all face situations where we need guidance and support, so seek advice from colleagues--your greatest allies--who have been there before.

People are people. Disrespectful students and parents can make this job unbearable at times, but often in these situations we're glimpsing a reflection of times they've been disrespected themselves, of problems at home, or of frustration with the system. Try to see through the anger to find common ground.

Don't let teachable moments slip by. These meaningful moments grow organically, even if unrelated to the planned lesson. Remember, we don't just teach science--we teach children. Don't shy away from discussions about current events, ethics, or life when they arise. Teachable moments help you make connections with and leave lasting impressions on your students, but they are fleeting and easily missed. Catch them.

Pursue opportunities that will make you a better teacher. Countless programs are available for teachers to perfect their practice while learning from scientists, doing real science, or traveling the globe. Don't settle for mindless professional development. Reach for the exceptional options instead. Spend the time to seek them out and apply.

Pay it forward. In our profession, we help each other. Share tips you've picked up and elevate the level of science teaching in your entire school. Create a "best lessons" file cabinet in your department office. Have each teacher add his or her three best lessons so others can use them as needed. Later in your career, offer to supervise a student teacher or mentor a newbie. …

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