With unique perspectives and expertise, we know that teachers have an incredible impact on students every day. However, there are many ways to go about inspiring and engaging learners. For Jenny Frank, Head of Educator Programming and Engagement at LabXchange, making an impact in the classroom involves using a variety of teaching techniques and approaches. Below, she shares seven of her strategies for reaching every learner effectively!
Each and every day, you impact your learners! As a science teacher by trade, I often overlooked or took for granted the ways in which my words and actions impacted my learners. It wasn’t until years later, when a learner would share a memory or experience from my class, that I would realize my impact and in most cases I am still surprised by what seems to resonate with my students.
Here are a few strategies and approaches that I use in the classroom to reach my students and hopefully make an impact:
It’s no small feat to have to bring enthusiastic teaching into the classroom every day! However, demonstrating genuine passion and enthusiasm for science can inspire students and truly spark their interest in the subject. Each and every day, I do my best to convey my excitement about what I teach and I have found that my learners equally become as engaged and curious about the topic going forward.
Incorporating hands-on experiments, projects, and inquiry-based activities can make science more tangible and meaningful for students. This approach allows my students to actively explore concepts, develop critical thinking skills, and apply their knowledge to real-world situations. It also ensures that I am promoting sensemaking in the classroom, rather than rote memorization.
LabXchange offers a wide range of interactive virtual simulations and online experiments that allow students to explore scientific concepts in a hands-on manner. These virtual experiences simulate real laboratory settings and provide opportunities for students to manipulate variables, collect data, and draw conclusions.
Recognizing that my students have diverse backgrounds, learning styles, and abilities, it is imperative that I look for ways to differentiate my classroom instruction and tailor learning to meet individual needs. This includes opportunities for both my high achievers and struggling students. Using a hybrid approach to learning in my classroom means that I can provide self-directed learning where my students can learn at their own pace, as well as have access to supplementary resources or additional challenges as they develop deeper understanding.
LabXchange incorporates adaptive learning technologies that can personalize the learning experience for each student. Lab protocol simulations mirror scientific processes by letting students discover how an experiment addresses a scientific question, framed by predictions and data analysis. These virtual labs allow learners to preview and repeat laboratory procedures as many times as needed without the need for any lab equipment or materials.
Connecting science concepts to real-world applications helps students understand the relevance and significance of what they are learning. It also answers that age-old question that always comes up in my class… “Why do we have to learn this?!” Outside of academia, my job as an educator is to inspire students to see science as a valuable tool for understanding the natural world around us and addressing global challenges and their impact on society.
LabXchange inspires students and helps them understand the potential applications of science in different professions. The career narratives showcase profiles of scientists and professionals working in different fields, giving students insights into the diverse opportunities available in the scientific community and tell stories of their journeys to reach their aspirations.
Clear and effective communication is essential for being an impactful teacher. If I want to build trust and confidence in my learners that they can do great things and overcome challenges, then my effectiveness in conveying complex scientific ideas in a developmentally appropriate and relevant way is important. The Ah-Ha moment that learners get when they understand something complicated is all I need to continue to challenge them in science.
Using accessible language and materials, visual aids, and encouraging students to ask questions and express their thoughts are some of the strategies I incorporate in my classroom daily. LabXchange has an incredible collection of visuals and models that help learners visualize the abstract.
Effective assessment practices are essential to being an impactful teacher. The power of “just-in-time” feedback has helped me to catch misconceptions early on in the learning journey and provide much needed reteaching. In order to do this effectively, it requires me to embed informal assessment strategies throughout my lesson to monitor student progress, identify areas of improvement, and provide timely and constructive feedback.
With LabXchange, I have been able to leverage the question and question set tools to build out a variety of assessment methods, including online formative and summative assessments to track learner progress and adjust my instruction accordingly.
Impactful teachers are committed to their own professional growth and stay updated with the latest developments in science education. One positive that came out of the COVID-19 shutdowns is that many professional development providers now offer so many different ways—both face-to-face and virtually—to attend their workshops and conferences, and to participate in professional learning communities to enhance our teaching skills and knowledge.
Check out LabXchange’s events page to learn more upcoming events to discover innovative teaching strategies, explore real-world connections in science education, and connect with a community of educators passionate about fostering hands-on and inquiry-based learning in the classroom.
So, please don’t forget what an incredible impact you have as teachers. Each day, you have the power to shape young minds, ignite curiosity, and inspire a love for learning. Your dedication and passion are truly transformative. Never underestimate the power of your words and actions. A simple encouragement, a kind gesture, or a listening ear can make a lasting impression on a student’s life. Your belief in their abilities can instill confidence and inspire them to dream big. At LabXchange, we are thrilled to have educators of all kinds join us on our journey to inspire the next generation of scientists, innovators, and problem solvers!