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Science Blogs has asked: What makes a good science teacher?

Many of the science teachers that I’ve met can’t really be described by the adjective “good.” The better fitting words are: great, marvelous, inspiring, and fantastic.

But, SBer’s want to know, “what makes them so great?” Right?

I’ve compiled a list of characteristics that I’ve seen all great science teachers share. And, since this group rarely gets sufficiently rewarded beyond seeing themselves in the annual edition of the Bio-Rad Explorer catalog, I’m even going to name names and give examples.

What characteristics do great science teachers have in common?

They’re self-confident and able to create an atmosphere that gives students the confidence to try new things.
     Penny Pagels, Erin Dolan, Bill Woodruff

They inspire others.
     Mary Bicknell

They are willing to try new things.
     Linnea Fletcher, Sonia Wallmani-0ed222c8821ed1b2e3d26f1d0ba1fa19-Mario.jpg

They have vision.
     Tamara Goetz, Elaine Johnson, Charlotte Mulvihill

They are willing to step back and let students do things.
     George Cachianes

They’re not afraid of chaos.
     Jim deKloe, Joan Messer

They are altruistic and caring
     Wendi Johnston, Tracy Stoops, Jeanne Chowning, Maureen Munn, Nancy Hutchinson

They’re able to get students interested in new subjects
     Jim Fielder

They’re enthusiastic about new scientific discoveries
     Mary Glodowski, Connie Kelly

They never hesitate to share what they’ve learned and help others learn, too
     Ellen Daugherty, Lisa Seidman

They don’t patronize their students. They believe that all students can learn and they find ways to get all students involved.
     Judi Heitz

They have a great sense of humor.
     Dewey Moody

Since I know I’ve missed some well-deserving teachers, maybe I can get my readers to help out here. If you’ve had a great science teacher, some time in your life, hey, be brave, go ahead and say something nice about your favorite science teacher(s) in my comment section.

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Comments

  1. #1 James Steinberg
    March 10, 2007

    I’ve only ever had one “great” science teacher. He was Dr. Akintunde, from Stuyvesant High School (www.stuy.edu), and he taught me in freshman biology, veterinary animal diagnostics, and (human) medical diagnostics. I wouldn’t have said he was “great” my freshman year: I could not tell you if that was due to my level of non-participation (I slept in every class, in hindsight due to multiple chronic fatigue illnesses), or because he really doesn’t like freshmen (froshes in Stuyvesant were absurdly irritating, and I can understand why he would dislike them.)

    In my junior year, however, when I took my diagnostics electives with him, I saw an entirely different side of the man. He taught with passion about the topic that was contagious: when was the last time you saw an excited lecture class? He taught very, very clearly, but without being slow; all of the material was covered, and all questions would be answered fully. He did not bludgeon, and taught in a systematic manner that made it easy to see the patterns that would allow one to keep up with what would otherwise be a class of rote memorization. Once a week he brought in medical videos – human or veterinary, as appropriate – to maintain the appropriate level of interest in the topic as a whole, rather than as a list of symptoms and diagnostic approaches.

    He carefully told us what material would be covered on the test and did not deviate from this on the test proper. He kept us interested, and motivated, sharing in his joy, and did his best to use the tests to measure our knowledge rather than our test-taking ability.

    Dr. Akintunde did his best to teach the material, and to allow us to enjoy the process. He joked with us – and welcomed our jokes, and managed to keep the class going the right way without being oppressive.

    Dr. A enjoyed his material, and he enjoyed having us share it: what made him so great was the sense of satisfaction he brought to learning, beyond just that of a good grade.

  2. #2 Alair
    NYC
    November 15, 2012

    I also had Dr. Akintunde at Stuy. He was by far one of my favorite teachers! I never thought I was any good at science, but then I took his classes and enjoyed them and did well. He really loved what he taught and cared about his kids understanding it too!

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