How did this get started.

You can call me Mrs. Rachel and this site is a project of mine. Currently, I am finishing up my schooling to become a high school science teacher. My hopes for this site is that it can become a key tool for other teachers like myself. 
Teachers looking to their community for insight and resources on how to instill diversity and broaden cultural knowledge in their classrooms. 

My Teaching Philosophy

As I start my teaching career this is the philosophy basing it upon. For those already in the field, hopefully, hearing from a student that is soon to become the teacher will add inspiration to your own teaching philosophy.

My desire as an educator is to provide a safe, fun, inquiry based environment for all students. It is my goal to inspire and grab each student’s attention.  Students tend to be interested in issues that affect them directly or that are important in their environment.  Therefore, I must take the time to learn my students’ background, religion, environment, and previous education.  Then, I can be conscientious, respectful, and most of all able to present examples and material in ways that each student can individually relate. With all students being unique learners, I must present material in several ways through the use of experiments, charts, diagrams, video, and many other aids. My passion is to help students explore science, form questions, and think critically in and out of the classroom setting.

My Classroom Management Plan

 If you are interested, take a look at the management plan I have created for how I will run my own classroom of science.

Students’ Academic and Social Needs
The very first days of the semester will be spent getting to know the interests and learning styles of each student.  I will ask each student to present an auto biography including how science has been a part of their life.  This can be in the form of a paper, video, or a power point presentation.  I am not as much concerned about the format, as I am about the content.  This will give me insight into the students’ strengths and personalities.  I will also be handing out the syllabus and discussing the requirements for the class.  At the beginning of each week we will discuss what we will be covering.  A rubric will be given with each assignment.  Students will evaluate their own work and turn the rubric in with their assignment.  All assignments will be kept in student portfolios to be used to monitor student progress throughout the year.  The students will be included at parent teacher conferences.  From the portfolios, students will lead the discussion on their progress and struggles.  To build a strong relationship with the parents, I plan to call each student’s parents and notify them of their child’s strengths.  Usually the only time a parent is contacted is when their child is in trouble.  Rather, I would like to focus on the strengths and only discipline when it can’t be avoided.  I plan to have a questions box in my classroom.  Each day at the end of class, students will be encouraged to write a question about the material or any science related topic that they do not understand.  I will read through the questions to see what concepts the students are having difficulties with and what we need to discuss further in class.  Some students are embarrassed to ask questions in class.  This gives him/her the chance to ask anonymously.   

Lesson Plans
At the beginning of each class, while I am taking attendance, students will be given a question to discuss in groups.  This could possibly be a question written by a student and put in the question box, or one that I provide.  We will then discuss the subject as a class, correcting any misconceptions that the students might hold.  This activity captures student interest and promotes social interaction.  Learning is socially acquired.  Therefore, these group discussions allow students to learn from each other.  

Science is not about memorizing facts.  It is about questioning these facts and testing their validity.  During lectures, I will ask for students input, opinions, and questions.  I want them to question and relate to the material.  We will have an experiment or hands-on activity once every two weeks, and we will read scientific journals on the weeks that we don’t have an activity.  I plan to break up the lectures with group discussions, demonstrations, and video clips.  At the end of each unit, we will have a game day to review  for the upcoming test. 

Classroom Organization
All assignments will be placed in the appropriate bin for each subject.  Once papers have been graded and the students have had time to review their answers, they will be put into the students’ portfolios.  These portfolios will be kept in a filing cabinet.  All lab equipment will be returned to its proper storage cabinet, and tables will be properly cleaned after completing experiments.  I plan to decorate the classroom with student projects, and posters.  I will have  insect, rock, leaf, and weed collections on display.  And lastly, I will have an aquarium in the classroom.  All of these materials can be used as visual references during the school year.   The desks should be arranged to allow students to work cooperatively as well as allow me to circulate freely.  This allows me to monitor students work, keep students on task, and answer individual questions.  

Procedural Expectations
As part of an effective routine, students will begin work immediately after the bell rings. A question will  be put on the overhead projector to prompt student critical thinking and discussion until attendance is taken. The activity could lead directly into the day's lesson. 

Students are expected to turn in assignments on time.  Late assignment will result in a ten percent deduction for 
each day late.

Students are expected to clean up their tables and put equipment away when finished with lab.  They should follow proper safety protocol and disposal for all experiments.  For health reasons, no food or drinks are allowed in the lab.  A more in depth list of safety rules will be handed out to students during the first week of class.  These rules will be discussed and students must sign an agreement to follow them.  

I don’t believe in raising your hand to speak.  At the high school level, students should be able to politely interrupt to ask questions during lecture.  I encourage collaborative learning and want all students to feel comfortable speaking up and participating in class discussion.  

Disciplinary Strategies
Student expectations will be discussed on the first day of class and reviewed periodically as a preventive measure.  Students will have a copy of these expectations on their syllabus.   Students are expected to come prepared to class with appropriate class materials. The students are expected to behave respectfully to me and to other students.  As a class, we will create a discipline plan including rules with clear and effective consequences. Once the class has developed its list of rules, they will be displayed at the front of the room as a reminder. This gives me something to point at when requesting certain behavior to stop. 

Body language, facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, and physical proximity all can be effective as a corrective measure. If the student continues to act out, he/she will be verbally reminded of the behavior policy.   If the student continues to misbehave, he/she will be asked to stay and discuss the matter after class. Continued disruptions will not be tolerated in my classroom. Therefore, such students will be respectfully removed from class, and sent to the principal’s office.

Students with Special Needs
I can work with a special education teacher to provide  extra needed support to students with disabilities.  Some of the strategies used will also benefit the rest of the class.  Every student learns differently.  Some learn visually, some are hands-on learners, and others are audile learners.  Different methods should be used to assure that all students are able to learn the curricula.  Another teacher’s perspective can provide different ways of thought or looking at something that might be more understandable to the students.