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Teaching Advice

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by relentless11, Apr 3, 2004.

  1. relentless11

    relentless11 Going broke and loving it
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    Well this is semi-off topic but its about one of my new EC's that i'll be doing. Always wanted to be a teacher so fullfilling that part of my life by teaching science, english, and math courses for underserved children (6th-8th Graders).

    I've had experience teaching undergraduates, and coached high school sports, but this will be the first time I'll be exposed to the middle school kids. So i'm wondering if anyone has any advice, or what not.

    I'm looking forward to this, and i'm not scared of these kids or anything, i'm just more concerned about them learning something. One of the very few times I can see myself directly giving back to the community so i want to do it right:).

    So far i'm potentially going to be department head for the program, so i may have a lot of flexibility in what i do too. Hopefully i'll be dept. head for some science course, rather than english. I'm used to writing scientific papers, so might not be applicable to these guys in regards to high school and part of their undergraduate careers.

    So yea thanks again!
     
  2. meanderson

    meanderson Senior Member
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    Hey relentless. I'm currently teaching high school science now so I have a *small* amount of info here. First, don't look at it as an EC. Volunteering at hospice for 2-3 hours a week is an EC. Teaching is a full-time job that represents your career for as long as you do it.

    How do adcoms view teaching experience? I really think it all depends on the situation. If you are applying this upcoming cycle and plan to start teaching in august, I'm not sure how important it will be(I certainly don't think it will hurt though). Why? Because on your primary(and some secondary apps) you won't be able to talk in any way about what you have gained from this experience and how it is shaped you. If your interviews are in November, you will only have 2-3 months full-time experience and I'm not sure it would be a wise idea to talk a lot about something you have been doing such a short time.

    I think my experiences in teaching helped at a few schools and was a non-issue at other schools. Honestly, as far as previous careers go, it probably is viewed more favorably than most(from a service perspective especially).

    Some advice on the actual job though:

    1) Always ask experienced teachers for advice. They've seen what works in the classroom and what doesn't.
    2) Make it a point to avoid telling other teachers and admin. that you are just doing this for a year or two before going to med school.
    3) Teachers are professionals. Make sure you act like one and treat others as such.
    4) I'm a little concerned that the school you are going to be at next year is considering making you a department head???? That raises a pretty big red flag as far as what kind of working environment this is going to be. As a first year teacher, you really need to be 100% focused on improving your skills in the classroom. Departments heads have other responsibilities(cirriculum, scheduling, etc) and these are done better by people who have been in the system a few years because of familiarity. The fact that a school might be having problems getting their experienced teachers to serve as department head indicates very low morale amongst faculty. If you could avoid being department head I would do so because it's just going to be an increased amount of paperwork and meetings.....when that time and energy could better be spent improving daily lesson plans and other classroom related things.
    5) Finally, working with middle school underserved students it's especially important to modify your cirriculum as such. I wouldn't give any notes at all and I would try to do as much collaborative/hands on modality learning as possible.

    Good luck!!...if you want more specific info PM me.
     
  3. linuxizer

    linuxizer MS0
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    I second the hands-on stuff, but they won't learn as much from it as you would like, but definitely give notes, and tests, and quizzes. There is a lot of emphasis on engaging your students these days, which is good and necessary, but some things can only be learned if they want to learn, and nothing will be learned in a classroom with no structure. Try to set up the class time consistently, and explain what will happen in the hands-on component *before* you break out the materials, otherwise it inevitably turns into an arts-and-crafts fair with no knowledge behind it. Circulate as they are making things and demonstrate again and again the concepts behind the project. At the end, you may want to give a brief lecture/review of what they were supposed to learn with the project, and possibly a quiz or a worksheet. Passing out worksheets during an activity almost ensures that answers will be copied, not learned.

    And, the best wish I can give you: may all this not be necessary at the school where you teach.

    --Ari
     
  4. meanderson

    meanderson Senior Member
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    true and all good points. For a 6th-8th grade underserved class, I would give lots of worksheets(not neccessarily during group projects though). Make them do the worksheets totally individually...then spend a lot of time going over them and checking their answers. That would eat up a lot of class time. But notes and lecture for a 6th-8th grade underserved class? I just don't see that working in any meaningful way. I'm in a district now that is not underserved and our 6th-8th graders really have no concept of notes/lecture. I'd base my tests and quizzes off the worksheets done in class.

    Too many people(mainly alternatively certified) come into teaching high school and they think it should be like college. That the class should be structured in some ways like the bio2200 class they took 4 years ago at their stateU. And that's counterproductive imo.

    English is easier to teach because you can read stories and books and discuss them a lot. Then write essays on them, etc....I'd have gotten a Lit degree and taught high school lit if I had to do it again, although it would have been harder to get a job because there are fewer alt certified teachers teaching high school lit than high school science.
     
  5. jlee9531

    jlee9531 J,A,S
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    i recommend hands on active learning....

    but also you should give notes so they have something to take home and reinforce what they have learned in the classroom.

    many a time i have seen teacher try to do something progressive in the class in which they do a great job, but they neglect the notes and effective reinforcement that the students should implement at home so that they dont really forget what they did in class.

    a mixture of both progressive and traditional techniques will in my opinion work best.

    ahh i knew those education classes taught me something...:D

    respect the children and in turn most will respect you back. but some will be troublemakers no matter what you do. its hard to focus on every child...dont get frustrated tho...i dont know how many kids you have in your class...but i remember when i co-teaching a class of 20 ish and it was still difficult to give each of the kids as much attn as i would have liked since there is just not enough time in the day to do everything you wish you could.
     
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  6. DrMom

    DrMom Official Mom of SDN
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    As a former middle school science teacher, I completely agree with the previous posters. The only thing I'd add is to do the best you can to have a good working relationship with any parents that you have contact with. They can be your best allies or your worst enemies and how you deal with them (especially the difficult ones) can make all of the difference.
     
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