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Expectations from a Science Teacher – A Very Tall Agenda.

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1 Expectations from a Science Teacher – A Very Tall Agenda

2 A teacher should know her subject well This, of course, is obvious. If teacher ‘s own knowledge of what she is going to teach is not sound, how good can she be? I do not mean here degrees and diplomas, which a teacher may have in plenty, but the competent knowledge and understanding of the concepts she is going to teach.

3 She should brush up all her knowledge and if she feels that she needs help, she should not hesitate to get it, from senior or more experienced teachers, library, internet, or from wherever. The bottom line is that she should be well equipped with the concepts she is going to teach.

4 Force, for example, is a difficult concept, and if the teacher herself does not understand it well, she will not be able to teach it properly to her students. So, students will remain deficient in this important basic concept of physics, which could hamper their future learning. Motion, speed, pressure, temperature, are a few other such concepts.

5 Awareness of Pre- or Misconcepts, or Naïve Concepts of Students Constructivists, who believe that children construct their own knowledge and cognitive scientists, who study how children learn, tell us that children come to the class with Preconcepts, or Misconcepts, which they have formed before receiving any formal training in science.

6 One of the ways in which these misconcepts could arise is that science sometimes picks words from day-to-day language, attaches specific meanings to them and elevates them to the level of concepts. The concepts such as force, work, power and energy fall in this category.

7 Even after proper explanation from the science teacher, children remain confused between the concepts and the everyday meanings of these words. The confusion interferes with the children’s learning. For example, in science ‘work’ is said to have been done only when an object is moved through a certain distance by a force. This is quite different from the everyday use of the word ‘work’.

8 Another way in which misconcepts could be formed may have something to do with the traditional beliefs, superstitions and the worldview of the society or community in which children are brought up. If, for example, a child has seen from her very early childhood that certain diseases are ‘cured’ by resorting to magic, is it any wonder that her concepts of diseases and their cure will come in the way of her acquiring proper scientific concepts governing modern medicine?

9 Traditional explanations in many societies for the occurrence of earthquakes, eclipses, and many other natural phenomena, lean heavily on mythology. A child who has internalised these misconcepts will obviously find it difficult to accept scientific concepts which explain these phenomena. Roots of conflict are quite apparent.

10 It is imperative, therefore, that the teacher is aware of at least some of the misconcepts which children bring to the class. She can get an idea of these misconcepts by engaging children in discussion of natural phenomena and the explanations they can offer. She should also make an attempt to gauge the degree of conflict.

11 Having gauged the hold of misconcepts that a child carries, she can plan her lessons so that gradually misconcepts give way to correct concepts. At the end of each concept, she could engage children in discussing its application and see how far she has succeeded in eradicating the associated misconcept. It is a difficult, but a necessary, task.

12 A teacher should be able to communicate her knowledge to her students effectively Knowing is one thing and communicating effectively is quite another, which includes speech delivery, gestures, black board (or white board) presence, etc.

13 Speak clearly, each word separately, so that each word that you speak is deciphered and understood. We all have our peculiar accents, but effort must be made to overcome problems with our pronunciation with the help of a good online dictionary where words are also pronounced to give an idea of their pronunciations.

14 Be loud enough so that every one in the class is able to hear you. Most schools do not have public address systems in their class rooms. If your class is several rows deep, then you will have to speak loud enough so that the students even in the last row are able to hear you distinctly. Otherwise they may cause disturbance to the class.

15 When you write on the black board or white board, not only should the letters, numerals and symbols be clear (as opposed to dim), but they should be adequately large in size so that the students at the back have no difficulty in deciphering them. For example, the symbol ‘=’ should not resemble the numeral 2.

16 E=mc 2 E=hf; f=frequency m=hf/c 2 A good example of blackboard use

17 Diagrams should be neat and of adequate size for the students at the back to be able to appreciate them. Suppose you are drawing a circuit diagram. See that the symbol of the battery is not confused with that of the capacitor. Similarly, the symbol for resistance should be distinguishable from that of the inductance. Lettering and values indicated for various elements should be clear.

18 C R L V A circuit diagram with Distinguishable symbols Clear lettering 2F F F O A ray diagram should not only be clear, it should also be accurate Importance of clear diagrams cannot be overemphasized

19 These things do not always come naturally; they have to be practised. These days lectures of some of the best teachers are available on the YouTube. Watch them and practise. It is a good idea that some times you walk to the rear of the class and see that every thing on the black board is clearly visible and children are not uneasy.

20 A science teacher should herself have scientific temper, or rational attitude, and her own conduct should be an example of such attitude. The knowledge we call science is based on inquiry, observations and their logical extensions. It is testable by experiment and/or has logically convincing explanation.

21 Scientists look at every thing with scepticism. They are not easily swayed by popular acclaim, even if such claims are couched in scientific terminology. Examples of astrology, numerology and vaastu fall in this category. Scientists look for convincing scientific or rational arguments for reposing their belief in any thing. But they remain sceptic at heart.

22 A science teacher can exemplify the content of scientific temper from her own every-day conduct. Occasionally, she can engage her students in discussions (such as superstitions associated with eclipses) to develop scientific temper and foster values hidden in scientific method; the values like truth, honesty, and open-mindedness.

23 The prescription for developing rational thinking is quite simple: We should be sceptic and accept something only when we are convinced that it is logical or has passed the test of experimentation. We should keep our ears, eyes and minds open for newer ideas from wherever they may come.

24 We should be ready to appreciate the others’ point of view. We should try to convince others or get convinced by them without rancour and ill feeling. We accept an idea only when we are sure that it is logically sound.

25 She should be well-read. It will boost her confidence if she is able to answer questions by students and engage them in discussion. It will also help her to plan alternative strategies, She should be patient but determined. She should be more a facilitator and less of a teacher. She should take a back seat and allow students to lead discussions in the class, Some other attributes of a good teacher:

26 She should be friendly with students and not authoritative, She should be a good actor and a good story teller, and should have a large repertoire of anecdotes and stories up her sleeve to relieve her class from occasional boredom when students lack interest, She should be inventive and innovative in planning activities in and outside the classroom.

27 In one word, she should be creative. While every body is not equally creative, attempt can certainly be made to increase her level of creativity. That is the sure sign of a good teacher.

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