I recently asked my inquiry students to reflect on what they have learned this semester about teaching science. Here are snippets from what they wrote.
“Instead of just giving the students the answers or the details, it is important for them to think for themselves and come up with their own ideas and explanations. Also, I want to remember that it is very important to listen to my students, their ideas, discussions, and arguments that will occur.”
“Children have more knowledge from experiences which you need to try to take what they already know and let them explore ideas with that knowledge. The more that you build on that knowledge the more what they learn will stick. Building on that knowledge needs to come from a place of self exploration. Allow the students to question, work together to find out answers and discover their truth.”
“You can’t stand at the front of a room and talk at a group of children and hope they listen and then expect them to perform well on a test. If children are listening to you explain something that makes sense to you, they won’t necessarily understand it for themselves. You have to allow them time to process things in their own way and then you can help them better understand it after they’ve developed a good general idea of what causes things to happen.”
“Well, I want you to remember that it is okay to not be the main voice during the discussion.”
“Always look at different sides of the situation, and never judge a kid for having a bad idea. Ask them why they think that, but never tell them it’s bad! Tell them you’re curious to know more or to explain more what they mean. A lot of times they will be right, but off on another path.”
“Don’t forget that part of teaching is listening.”
“Make them wonder about science outside of the classroom. Encourage them to explore and make connections.”
“I must always remember children’s prior knowledge or common sense of the world and things around them. I’ve learned that the most in depth and substantial learning comes from starting with a student’s prior knowledge and building off that. Sometimes you are able to build on their prior knowledge and sometimes their prior knowledge is a little miscued from the actual reality of the topic that you have to guide them through group discussions and hands on experiments and self-reflections that they create a way for themselves to learn the concept and implement it into their everyday thinking and common knowledge.”
“Children as well as nearly all people can learn through developing their own thoughts and ideas. Science might be treated as memorization of facts, but it was all discovered by people who had an idea and explored it further.”
” Teaching is not all about lectures. Listening intently and posing good questions for students can be a better tool!”
“Allowing the students to discuss among themselves will engage them and pull them much deeper into the content. And don’t be afraid of noise! When the students are discussing and bouncing ideas off each other, learning is happening. Dont be afraid of disagreements. If a student can say I agree because, or I disagree because, building on knowledge can happen!”
“You want to be able to show your students that it is ok to have the wrong answer and it’s not always about the right answer, but how you figured out something.”
“Students should have a comfortable classroom environment where they feel confident enough to share their thoughts. They should know that it is okay to be wrong. Always remember how the group discussions help connect everyone’s thinking.”
Lots of good reminders here.
Also, I am thinking: Even if they were just spitting back to me what they thought I wanted to hear, at least they knew what I wanted to hear.