Science, Education, and Science Education

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Archive for the ‘Why I Teach’ Category

September 20th, 2015 by Luann

All Means All, Part 4: Learning from Parents

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts summarizing my reflections on what it means to provide learning opportunities for every student, every day. #AllMeansAll 

At the beginning of each year, I send a safety contract home with my students to sign with their parents.  There’s also a place for parent and student to sign that they read and understand the course information and syllabus. The truly important questions, though, are on the other side of the paper.

Yes, I want to know what parents expect for their child in my class. While this survey is far from scientific, every year the answers I receive cause me to reconsider how I communicate with students and parents. Here, in general terms to protect privacy, is a summary of some of the most common comments from parents explaining what they want for their kids. Some comments are not at all surprising. Some comments, however, make me step back and think.

Parents want me to:

  • be enthusiastic about our learning.
  • be a really great teacher.
  • know if their child will learn to work with chemicals safely.
  • treat their children courteously and with respect.
  • know their children are kind, funny, clever, interesting, talented, intelligent, hard-working, conscientious, scared, stressed, anxious, are quick learners, struggle with math, are gifted artists and writers and musicians, here is where the private piano lessons coming from.
  • be available for any help their child might need with understanding concepts or learning skills.They want me to know their child doesn’t always like to ask for help.
  • communicate with them if there are any issues with their children, be they behavioral or academic – assignments missing, failing grades. They want to hear from me if they call or email.
  • actually teach the class and not just hand out papers and expect students to understand.
  • know they can’t help with chemistry homework.
  • provide career guidance and prepare their children for college.
  • give writing assignment help.

Parents want their children to:

  • be challenged appropriately.
  • enjoy science and learning.
  •  “just please pass this class.”
  • be able to ask questions and get answers delivered in a way that doesn’t make their child feel like an idiot.
  • be challenged.
  • be given clear expectations

Parents want to know what they can do to help their children be successful.

Most of all, each parent wants me to know his/her child; to know that Rosa loves her dogs more than anything; that Abby is on the state equestrian team and is a horse whisperer; that John needs frequent check-ins for understanding, that Katie lost her glasses and won’t be able to get a new pair for 3 weeks; that Zach is having surgery in October and will miss at least a week, that Mindy has anxiety attacks before tests but does just fine if I offer some reassurance beforehand that I know she can do well; that Jose wants to be a physicist and will take AP Chemistry and physics both next year; and that Roger wants to take over his grandfather’s machine shop after graduation.

There are very few surprise responses. Parents do ask questions,  and they expect answers.

How am I changed by knowing all this?  Students love knowing that I know a bit about them when I plan our work together. I can better craft physical and emotional learning environments that meet all students’ needs. I know  student seating preferences, who is reserved about speaking out, who doesn’t read aloud in class,  There’s something positive to talk about when I call home.

What do you do to better know your students?

September 14th, 2015 by Luann

All Means All Part 3: Graphing our Learning Styles

This is the third in a series of blog posts summarizing my reflections on what it means to provide learning opportunities for every student, every day. Find the series here, at  #AllMeansAll 

 
Evaluating-learning-styles
Disclaimer: I’ve read a good deal of literature and opinion around the validity of learning styles. Nonetheless, at the encouragement of a colleague (this colleague) during some collaborative course design work, I pulled out the learning styles inventory* again this year, in Physical Science classes. The intent was to use the data gathered to introduce graphing, and that was a win.  The colleague suggested we share with students WHY we are interested in their learning styles. We are interested so that we can be sure to make learning available to all students in the modality each student best learns. We discussed this in both classes. The real win, though, was what I learned about my students, and what they learned about themselves.

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June 2nd, 2015 by Luann

Baccalaureate 2015

I was honored to be asked to address the Newberg High School’s Class of 2015 Baccalaureate Service. I’ve posted an unedited transcript, below.

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Throughout the past 4 years, I’ve had the honor of working with and getting to know many members of the class of 2015. My assigned job, my main job, was to teach science, to prepare students for their respective futures. I may have been invited here tonight to teach; but the more I thought about what to say, I realized this class taught me at least as much as I tried to give to them. Tonight,  I’d like to share some of the life lessons the class of 2015 taught to me.

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