My philosophy of learning impels my philosophy of teaching; which continually guides classroom instruction as I strive to increase the growth in learning that occurs for my students. In that regard, my instruction is geared to access students’ natural curiosity - about how the world they know directly impacts them; and how things of which they may not know, equally impacts them. While inquiry is not the only method that allows one to exploit student’s curiosity and engage them in high levels of learning, it is my preference. No matter what instructional method is used though, I strive to increase the level of engagement by all students, because highly engaged learners are most successful. Therefore, while every lesson in my classroom is not necessarily inquiry based - primarily due to limited resources - inquiry plays the major role in my instructional methods.
Because I was acutely aware of the diversity in skill and ability levels of the students in my classes; as well as their various learning styles, I learned a long time ago that for me to be effective, I had to reach each student - no matter what the obstacles are for some students. It is not always easy, but the challenge is always met with the reward of helping students succeed. I truly have never met a student who could not learn.
Unfortunately, I have far too many students who come into my Chemistry classroom believing that they "do not enjoy science". They've often shared with me that some previous instruction consisted of: Open the book, read the chapter; complete the worksheet; then the chapter review; take the test; repeat cycle. I try very hard not to allow that to occur in my classes. Because our resources are limited - materials and supplies - performing inquiry-based activities can be a challenge. Our repertoire includes virtual, or web based lab activities, full-fledged lab activities, in class demonstrations by teacher and students, cooperative and collaborative discussion.
More recently, and where applicable, I have begun to incorporate the use of case studies - from the National Center For Case Study Teaching in Science - in our class routine.
In the twenty-one years I have been an educator, I am proud that my...