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Some tips for young Science teachers

Elena Kyriaki, Physics teacher from Belgium, gives in the article below some advices for young Science teachers to work with the potential scientists of the future.

We all know how difficult the life of science teachers is in a modern school. We have to cope with the lack of interest, lack of discipline, and lack of understanding of the parents. How can anyone survive in such an environment? Well, we also have strong weapons; motivation, answers to the natural curiosity, and “magical” experiments.

Here are some tips I gathered for you, my young colleagues, who probably feel lost in a class full of demanding teenagers, or should I say potential scientists of the future?

1. If you want your students to take your lesson seriously you should do the same first. Always be on time and well prepared. You don’t have to have all the answers for everything, but you have to try hard to find the answers.

2. In presenting a “new” physical phenomenon, usually the teacher must perform a simple experiment. It is always didactic to ask the assistance of one or two students. It is amazing how quick they are, at this age, in understanding the operation of the experiments.

3. Don’t hesitate to use the New Technologies’ tools. Nowadays you can have:

  • Direct observation of natural phenomena or experiments using videos
  • Step-by-step observation and qualitative analysis through pictures and simulations
  • Measurements and graphs by sensors immediately available on a computer screen

4. When you work with mathematical equations, make sure your students understand that physics’ laws are the product of experiments. Take some real measurements, make the tables and try to show the correlation between the variables.

5. Encourage your students to come up with questions; one of the main objectives of school is to find answers to their curiosity. They “examine” us by setting up questions relevant to the subject studied.

6. Most interesting is the experiments that the students carry out. Don’t use only electronic sensors, but use old fashion measurement devices too to help them learn how to be precise and careful. Nowadays you can also work with web experiments. The ones that you can find on Internet are really interesting (the Millikan experiment, the Electron Diffraction).

7. Give small projects tailored to the personalities and interests of different students. Not only Power Point presentations, dare to try real constructions. Motors, steam engines (or parts of it), watermills made from cheap materials. Give them old, broken devices from the school laboratory to fix.

8. Communicate with other schools. Take part in chats, competitions, and educational projects. It is hard work for the teacher - he/she has to do most of the job - but it is the best way to work as a team with your students.

Is that all? Of course not. Finding new ways to become a better teacher never ends. This is the beauty of the profession. Science teachers are supposed to like solving problems. So, enjoy it!

Elena Kyriaki

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