Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: April 2016

A lot of people ask about pros and cons of the Warner school – one thing that I think I would certainly improve is a way to see what classmates are doing in their placements, and possibly offer “student teacher swaps,” a possible one day opportunity to go to someone else’s placement and be a “guest lecturer.” This would be awesome especially in a middle school setting, where many different topics are covered and we all show strengths in different areas of our respective sciences. It is almost as if, however, our student teaching lives exist on planets that aren’t similar to each other’s, which begs the question: what’s going on in that person’s life? Is their experience significantly different than mine? To make a loose parallel that was brought up quite a bit in an opportunity I had today, it is almost like asking what life is like on another planet: is it the same as we know it from our specific perspectives?

Today, before our EXPO, I had the opportunity to go to School of the Arts to give my “famous” black hole lecture. This school was where Sharon did her middle school placement, and so the kids were able to relate to me because “I knew Ms. Dudek.” The cooperating teacher was a phenomenal individual who commended me very much on my lecture and my knowledge of the content. It was nice to be able to offer this kind of lecture to students, which I will comment on in a bit here, but I think that it’s odd that we stress collaboration so much, but these opportunities never really come about, certainly no fault of anyone, as we are just all so busy. But this opportunity to speak to seventh graders emitted from Jo Ann’s kindness is stating to Sharon’s CT that she “knew just the person” to be able to talk about black holes to students.

I started first period with my lecture and was then asked to participate in subsequent lectures, highlighting students questions about their prior knowledge regarding space through a post-it activity. The outpour of questions from both the honors groups and the general science groups was truly remarkable, and I had such an amazing experience with the students there. It would be awesome to be able to do this, almost as a requirement maybe for seminar or for the 3 credit science classes – it would not have to be a large fraction of the grade, but it was interesting to see a different group of students react to the black hole talk. I have given it so many times, and this group’s questions far exceeded the expectations I would ever have for seventh graders.

I am looking forward to the opportunity to return to SOTA again and see how their astronomy knowledge is progressing while acting as an expert in astrophysics to enhance the knowledge and research they will obtain throughout the unit.

Shoutout again to Jo Ann for setting up such an opportunity for me.

Phenomenal read for anyone, specifically targeted for those who believe all urban children need “fixing,” or that the majority are “broken” and “need saving.”


If there’s one thing I can say I really do well, it’s build rapport with students. Many of the students when I left my middle school placement were very upset that I had to leave and mentioned how much they’d really enjoyed my being there. These are very urban middle schoolers who certainly have strong opinions about things, including me. I know how much they like me and how much they’ve appreciated me. Even some of the toughest kids in the class have done their work for me, one of them citing that “[I] just know how to talk to kids in a way that makes [him] want to do [his] work.”

These kids don’t always have the best backgrounds, but in my mind, they are all angels (perhaps not always behaviorally, but for what they’ve gone through). They’ve gone through a systematically oppressive system that I can relate to only as a city kid – not in terms of race. Some of the things they’ve made it through and survived are unfathomable circumstances to those in suburban or rural settings. They are all so particularly special in their own ways. My opinion of middle schoolers has changed so drastically and has become so much more positive than it once was. The experience to work in such an urban setting was initially daunting but has made so many of the issues clear to me, and has only bolstered my ability to build rapport with students and make them feel comfortable with me. I hope that this skill follows me throughout my career, as it seems to be certainly the most invaluable – if you can communicate with your students in a way that makes them trust you, you have the power to shape them for the future, and for the better.


ˈpərpəs/ : the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.

Despite our differences in content areas, our goal is common as science educators: get across science content to students in an educational setting such that they can successfully utilize the content on their own. This is, at its broadest, the minimum job requirement of a science teacher. But to make the science interesting distinguishes a great teacher from a mediocre one. The difference between making science interesting and not doing so is, in part, reliant on purpose. We must have a purpose for why we are teaching what we are teaching – if we don’t know why we care about a particular topic in any given subject, why will our students care? Why should my students care about kinematics, or DNA, or rocks, or atoms? What purpose do they have to these students?

It takes a lot of extra deep thought in planning lessons to really get to the crux of “why am I making students do this, and how will this actually help them.” The fact that it’ll be on the test is rarely enough – students need and even want real life applications for what they are doing. At the end of the day, there are reasons we all chose the subjects that we did to teach, and one of mine is to mold the minds of future physicists and astrophysicists. With this in mind, I have to ensure that I really emphasize the purpose in what we are doing, because if you can’t see it in your plan, your students certainly won’t.