Category Archives: Ms. Mentor

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Figure-it-out time

I get frustrated when I give directions for an activity and students immediately have questions about what to do. How can I help them become more confident and self-sufficient?  —C., Michigan Students have us trained! We offer directions or suggestions, and students know we’ll go over them again (and again). Some students panic right away […]

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Integrating Science and Engineering

In my elementary schedule, I barely have time for science, and now I’m concerned about teaching engineering, too. I’ve never studied engineering. Can you suggest some resources? —T., New Jersey You might feel a little more confident after reading “The Next Generation Science Standards and Engineering for Young Learners: Beyond Bridges and Egg Drops”  from […]

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Navigating a New Role

This year, as a science supervisor, I will be observing teachers. I’m not sure whether I should interact with them during classroom visits if I see something that could be improved. How involved should I be? —J., Pennsylvania You have a wonderful opportunity to observe (and learn from) a variety of teachers and share your […]

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Feeling stressed

I’m a first-year middle school life science teacher. After a few weeks, I am really stressed with all of the planning and paperwork. Any resources or words of encouragement? —L., New York Welcome to science teaching! Every teacher has gone through what you’re experiencing, even if they had a great student teaching experience. Fortunately, there […]

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Ideas for a new mentor teacher

My principal asked me to be a mentor for a new science teacher. I received a checklist of high school policies to review, but how can I help him in other ways? – T., New Jersey In my experience, a good mentor can be a role model, a good listener, a source of suggestions and […]

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Surveying student perceptions

I want to study my middle school students’ perceptions of what and how they are learning in science. Do you have any suggestions other than a traditional survey? —R., Ohio I found some research on the topic at Drawn to Science: Studying Science Teaching and Learning Through Drawings.  The authors examined “how the science teaching […]

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Connecting with your students

I meet with more than 100 students per day in my Earth science classes. As a relatively new teacher, I need suggestions on how to get to know them better including learning their names and interests in a timely manner. – L., Connecticut Students like to know teachers care about and respect them. Knowing their […]

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Prepping an empty classroom

I just took a fifth-grade position, and the principal showed me the classroom I’ll have. It’s a brand-new building, and there’s nothing in the classroom—just the student tables, bare bulletin boards, a few empty bookshelves, and a teacher desk. When I was student teaching, the classrooms had lots of interesting bulletin boards and centers, but […]

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Changing schools

I’m moving to a different state to take a teaching position. I don’t know anyone there, so where can I look for guidance on state standards and other resources that would be helpful in my new job? —W., Pennsylvania Congratulations on finding a job! I hope you will have a mentor and meet other colleagues […]

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Changing grade levels


Next year there will be an opening in the high school science department. Although I love teaching middle school, I’m tempted by the opportunity to try something different and use more of what I majored in (chemistry). What advantages and disadvantages should I consider?—C., New Jersey Taking on new subjects or grade levels can be […]

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