A students experience in science education can and should be an adventure if they are given the proper tools and knowledge to explore the subject. My goal as a science teacher is to equip students with problem solving skills and a desire to approach subjects creatively and systematically. Each lab I have instructed has had its own challenges and specific parameters with regards to training students to become better problem solvers and scientists. Despite differences among classes in syllabus requirements, I have discovered that my performance as a teacher is dependent on my passion for the subject and my level of expertise with the subject matter. I use my experience as a researcher, marine biologist, and former healthcare professional to expand upon the curriculum and give students practical applications in a variety of fields and everyday situations. I want my students to leave my classroom knowing that science matters and that the subject has benefitted their lives. I firmly believe that the more you know, the more you can know.
Maintaining a level of enthusiasm for the material during the semester is a paramount task and I strive to make it known to my students that the information I present is important for their continued education and development as professionals. Moreover, I strive to promote a level of enthusiasm for the subject material among my students by helping them explore connections between specialties of science and find real world applications for their personal discoveries in the classroom. A majority of my students have aspirations to work in the medical field at some level. Almost every lesson in my curriculum has had some effect on this field. Therefore, I frequently reference medical and research applications for the concepts we explore in class. If I find a student who has other professional goals, I use applicable metaphors or stories in a lesson that cater to his or her interests. I want my students to be curious and explore beyond the limits of the syllabus.
I enthusiastically approach students individually during class times and ask questions about their assigned tasks and the rationale behind their current activity. This strategy keeps me moving around the room and maintains a consistent level of student engagement throughout the period. Furthermore this strategy keeps students minds engaged in meaning of their task more so than simply focusing on the protocol. Many students in my lab will routinely focus solely on the experimental protocol and neglect to focus on the conceptual aspects of their tasks. I have found that simple questions regarding both their task and my lecture promote better understanding of principles and negate an attitude of simply wanting to finish the experiment.
Promoting an explorer’s spirit in my students has been a successful method to encourage students to be creative problem solvers. I believe that everyone can and should be a scientist and methodical problem solver in their respective professions. When a student’s experiment fails, I use this as an exciting opportunity for both me as an instructor and them as a nascent scientist. I encourage students to retrace their steps, discuss the problem and make hypothesis that is testable. I approach mistakes in my classroom as positive opportunities to teach problem solving skills. I take great pride in quipping students to think creatively and make connections while systematically challenging their hypothesis.