Category Archives: Ms. Mentor

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Planning for a substitute

I’m preparing for my first year as a science teacher. I’ve heard I should have a folder for a substitute teacher, but I’m not sure what should be in it besides a lesson plan. —H., Georgia Good substitutes deserve respect as professional colleagues and can ease your mind when you’re away. Ask your mentor or […]



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Involving students on day one

I’m not sure what to do on the first day of my new middle school assignment (I started student teaching in the spring, so I never had the experience of a “first day”). Any suggestions? —C., Minnesota On the first day, middle schoolers meet 6-8 different teachers. Listening to each teacher read the syllabus, describe […]



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Students’ Self-Assessment and Reflection

Do you have ideas on how to help my middle school students become more thoughtful, independent learners? —J., Michigan In my experience, self-assessment and reflective activities gave students ownership in their learning. Self-assessment is more than students “correcting” their own papers. When students self-assess, they reflect on the results of their efforts and their progress […]



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Learning from experience

My first year of teaching biology was challenging, but I made it! Do you have any suggestions for what I should do to improve for next year?  —C, Virginia Congratulations for completing your first year! A good way to prepare for next year is to reflect on this one, learning from your experiences. How did […]



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From teacher to administrator

I have assumed an administrative position in my high school. Although I’m sad to leave the classroom, I’m looking forward to this challenge. I have the credentials but not much experience, so I need insights on making the transition. —C., New York Congratulations on your new professional adventure! If you have not formally been assigned […]



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Inventing inventors

I’m looking for ideas to integrate physical science and social studies at the middle school level. — E., New Jersey Inventions and inventors could be an interesting context to explore the connections between science, engineering, technology, history, and economics. A social studies colleague framed a unit around two questions: Why do we invent or innovate? […]



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Student questions

What do I do when a student asks a question related to the lesson and I don’t know the answer? I don’t have a strong background in science, and as a beginning teacher this makes me nervous. —C., Massachusetts Virtually every teacher has been in this situation, with curious students or those who want more […]



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Interview lesson

I’m a recent graduate, looking for an elementary teaching position. I’ve heard I could be asked to teach a lesson as part of an interview. How should I prepare? —N., Ohio Sometimes the interview process does have a performance component. I’ve been part of the process (as both the interviewer and interviewee) in which applicants […]



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Successful interviews

As a recent graduate, I’m preparing for interviews. Do you have any hints for successful interviews? —A., Minnesota I’ve been on interview committees, and when applicants have comparable credentials, little things can make an impression. In addition to what your college mentors recommended for interviewing, I’d suggest the following. Do some research before the interview […]



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Summer suggestions

I teach fourth grade, looping with them to fifth. I’m thinking of ways to keep my students and their families involved with science over the summer. I don’t have a lot of money to spend.  —D., Florida Since you’ll see the students next year, you have a wonderful opportunity for action research on the results […]



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