Category Archives: Ask a Mentor

Get advice, and discuss the advice given! Click on a headline to read the entire post.
Have a question for Ask a Mentor? Send an email to mentor@nsta.org.

Vision and Leadership

I have applied to multiple teaching programs for my time after college, but I’m worried that I look too young to be taken seriously as a teacher. How do you gain the respect of students who may not be much younger than you? —D., California If you are thinking of teaching at the elementary or middle […]

Posted in Ask a Mentor | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Out with the old, in with the new?

I am about to graduate and become a new teacher. Is it a good idea to use lesson plans that are handed to me and maybe need to be tweaked or is it better to write brand new lesson plans each year? —G., Florida Since I never had an entire class comprehend 100% of what […]

Posted in Ask a Mentor | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How much to teach?

I am a student teacher in a kindergarten class and I have been struggling with focusing on laying the foundation for my students. But how much is too little? How much is too much for students at such an emergent level? —Y., Arizona   This is something teachers in all grades grapple with! The first person […]

Posted in Ask a Mentor | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Finding Professional Balance

What can we do to better support our teachers in ways such as development to help decrease the burnout rate? —I., Connecticut Teacher burnout is a world-wide phenomenon. My predecessor, Mary Bigelow, addressed this issue a couple of years ago (https://goo.gl/PS4HWJ) but it merits continued discussion. I’ve maintained that strategies for avoiding or mitigating burnout […]

Posted in Ask a Mentor | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Inclusive Labs

Do you have some suggestions for how to modify a science experiment for students with physical disabilities that prevent them from doing the activities? – A., Arkansas There are many ways you can modify the experience for students with disabilities. Specific labs may have special modifications, but here are some general ideas: In general, you should […]

Posted in Ask a Mentor | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Active or passive science?

One of my biggest questions is how to get the younger elementary students involved in science. Should we do more hands-on activities, having them participate in the environment or should we watch videos? —F., Texas “Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through […]

Posted in Ask a Mentor | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Get Moving!

I am currently a student teacher in an incredible third grade classroom. I was thinking about doing a lesson on Force and Motion. Are there any great strategies and tips for this subject? – J., Virginia   The Forces and Motion topic lends itself to fun STEM activities like balloon cars, wheeled cars, and so […]

Posted in Ask a Mentor | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Response

The long and short of field trips.

What do you think of the value of extended field trips? What should be considered? – M., Florida I love field trips and students often say that they are the highlights of school! Whether it is extended or just a single day, going outside the school gives students a chance to observe or experience things […]

Posted in Ask a Mentor | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Inquiring about Inquiry

How beneficial and effective can inquiry-based learning be at the younger elementary school grades (K-2)? What are some ideas for incorporating this type of learning at this level? —K., Wyoming I would argue the only way to teach science to our youngest students is through inquiry!  Humans were born with innate curiosity and a willingness […]

Posted in Ask a Mentor | Tagged , , , | 3 Responses

The Wow Factor

What are some activities that I can plan for the next school-year of science with that will excite my students for the lessons to come? — C., Arkansas   There are a host of demonstrations and hands-on activities that can impress a class and start off the year with a real rush! Try conducting quick […]

Posted in Ask a Mentor | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment