classroom culture

Creating a Culture of Nerdy

It all started with a couple of summers spent on fellowships at the Institute for Chemical Education at the University of Wisconsin: Madison. In 1990 after two years of teaching high school chemistry I transferred to help open a school to specialize in Health and Medical education. I was 23 years old and ready to take on the world. The school’s student body was high poverty, 96% of the students qualified for the federal lunch program, and almost the entire student body was classified as minority. It was a good first year.

This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.

The Two Words Every Chemistry Student Needs to Learn

Teaching students the proportional reasoning skills needed for stoich doesn’t have to be that daunting. By adjusting how your students talk about stoich, you will adjust how they think about it; eventually, they’ll proportionally reason in a more effective manner.

This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.

Stop trying to get your students interested in chemistry!

Because my teaching philosophy assumes that both quality and quantity of learning increases with interest in subject matter, I have spent years exploring ways to engage my students in chemistry (of course fire, explosions, and color changing reactions are certainly helpful). I have recently begun using an approach that I have found to be quite fruitful, albeit counterintuitive: I don’t try to get my students interested in chemistry. You read that right. I don’t try to interest my students in chemistry. Rather, I get to know the hobbies and interests of my students. Then I work to demonstrate how chemistry relates to those activities.

This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.

Classroom Culture - Experiment on Day 1

What is the very first impression that I want to make on students? Do I want to pass out a bunch of papers about the syllabus, rules and policies? Do I want kids to be thinking and acting like scientists? Deep down inside, my hope is always for the second idea. I decided to steal an idea I got from master chemistry teacher Linda Ford at an local ACS meeting. Linda introduced a group of teachers to the "Miracle Fortune Teller Fish".

This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.

Building Buy-In Through a Growth Mindset Classroom Culture

When you incorporate non-traditional pedagogies and grading systems into your classroom like Modeling Instruction and standards-based grading, you need to be concerned about buy-in from students and parents. Implementation without buy-in leads to frustrated students, parents and most of all teachers. I have saved myself from this frustration by establishing a growth-mindset classroom culture from day one. Here are my tips for building a classroom where students feel comfortable to fail.

Editors Note: This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.

Classroom Culture - Phoning Home...before there is a problem...

A couple of years ago I was asked to be a mentor teacher to a new teacher. We sat in on what seemed endless meetings for first year teachers.  told a story about his young daughter. His daughter's teacher called home to talk to her...before the first day of school. He mentioned the positive impact it had on both him and his daughter. A light turned on. What would happen if I called home to everyone of my students BEFORE the first day of school?

Nerdy Science Shirt Friday

Over the past 30 years, numerous articles have been written about the importance of student teacher relationships. The National Education Association, NEA, offers advice for beginning teachers that includes establishing the classroom climate, conducting class efficiently, and reaching all students. When teachers effectively connect to their students, discipline problems decrease and student engagement increases.

This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.