Effective strategies for teaching chemistry
International Journal of Education Research and Reviews ISSN 2329-9843 Vol. 3 (3), pp. 078-084, May, 2015.
Available online at www.internationalscholarsjournals.org © International Scholars Journals
Full Length Research Paper
Effective strategies for teaching chemistry
Yazachew Alemu Tenaw
Debre Markos College of Teacher Education, Chemistry Department, P.O.Box 428 Debre Markos, Ethiopia.
Email: [email protected], Tel. +251911709855, Fax. +251587714836.
Accepted 13 February, 2014
The main objectives of this study is forwarding the important strategizes( method of teaching and
instructional media) that are commonly encounter to teach science subjects especially chemistry at Debre
Markos College of Teacher Education, Ethiopia. The study is conducted by comprising the research results
conducted before and also including class room observation and exchanging ideas from the colleagues.
The study tried to asses all the possible strategies widely used to teach chemistry subject.
Key words: Chemistry, method of teaching, instructional materials, classroom observation, science subjects.
The reform of chemistry curricula is both promising and Learning objectives are important in all aspects of the
challenging as past teaching methods are examined in teaching and learning process. Learning or instructional
light of more current educational goals. In the past, many objectives are concrete statements of the goals towards
chemical educators chose a traditional lecturing style as it which instruction is directed. Objectives provide a genre
allowed for maximum content coverage and it was the for choosing subject matter content, sequencing topics
mode with which they were most familiar. In recent years, and for allocating teaching time. Learning objectives also
the effectiveness of the traditional unbroken lecture guide in the selection of materials and procedures to be
method has come under the scrutiny of science employed in the actual teaching process. Further they
educators for its inability to reach students with a wide provide standards as well as criteria for evaluating the
range of abilities and learning styles, and the passive quality and efficiency of teaching and learning activities.
atmosphere it creates in a classroom. When an instructor
chooses to use an alternative pedagogy, there is often
concern about whether portions of the course content are Use models during teaching
sacrificed. This is a common concern, though it is our
impression that many faculty involved in curriculum Activity: Much of the chemistry lesson can be
reform feel that the benefits provided by alternative represented with models, pictures, graphs etc. Discuss
instruction (for example, active learning methods) this idea.
outweigh the loss of course content, and we support this Represent the reaction 2H2 + O2 → 2H2O with models.
view. Following are some active teaching strategies in Make your own pictorial representations to discuss an
chemistry instruction. acid-base reaction.
Mainly the subject Chemistry deals with atomic and
Start from learning objectives molecular phenomena that cannot be observed in the
high school classroom. To help students understand
Activity: a) Comment on the following lesson objectives. these abstract concepts, teachers use analogical models
i) At the end of this lesson, you should be able to to make concepts more accessible to the learners. The
understand ionic bonding models are more than communication tools; they provide
ii) At the end of this lesson, you should be able to means for exploring, describing and explaining scientific
accurately state Arrhenius theory. and mathematical ideas; they help to make science
iii) At the end of the lesson, you must know about relevant and interesting and worth learning. Models
rate of reaction. should be used with care in teaching and learning
b) How frequently do you tell the objectives of a because they may expose learners to interpretations that
lesson to your students? Discuss this issue. often lead to unexpected alternative conceptions. Glynn
as quoted by Harrison and Treagust, (2000:354) most difficulties in understanding the submicroscopic
highlighted the need for educators to help learners level - the level of particles because it reaches beyond
identify the positive and negative aspects of an analogy. their experience. In these cases the interactive
They do not comment on a third and also important multimedia can be used as an effective tool. Multimedia
aspect of an analogy: the neutral aspect. Hesse (1966) demonstration of experiments must not replace other
stated that the neutral aspects of an analogy are neither methods of work in teaching chemistry. Virtual laboratory
obviously correct nor clearly wrong. These neutral can eliminate uninteresting and boring parts of the
aspects can stimulate new ideas and provide topics for experiments. It helps students understand higher
research. cognitive levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation
Educators' explanations and learners' mental models (Kirscher and Huisman, 1998). The use of multimedia
interact. How learners interpret these models, depends and virtual laboratories for teaching chemistry improves
on the learners' prior experience, knowledge, language teaching because it allows the integration of the three
skills and thinking strategies (Harrison and Treagust, levels of understanding of chemistry, visualization and
2000:355). These authors pointed out that experienced simulation of processes. Some experiments are too
educators recognise, value and encourage these dangerous or impractical to be included in the hands-on
interactions. According to Harrison and Treagust laboratory curriculum. Such experiments and
(1998:422), models can only act as aids to memory, demonstrations may be viewed in classrooms capable of
explanatory tools and learning devices. Harrison and displaying video. Thermite reactions, for instance, could
Treagust (1998:422) also state that educators need to be witnessed on a screen, eliminating the associated
plan the use of models in their lessons. The focus danger and required safety equipment. It is important to
involves pre-lesson planning in which the educator emphasize that hands-on laboratory experiences are
focuses on the concept's difficulty, learners' prior critical to a quality high school chemistry program and
knowledge and ability and the model's familiarity. that technology should not be seen as a replacement for
Drawings are models of mental models and this the laboratory, but rather as an enhancement. Various
lengthening of the reasoning chain may increase the forms of computerized formative assessment allow
likelihood of learner confusion. This gives rise to students and teachers to obtain immediate feedback on
questions such as: "what influence does the the progression of students‘ conceptual understanding of
representational form of models have on the chemistry. These technologies allow teachers to make
effectiveness of model based learning?" "How can appropriate changes to the curriculum, as needed. Some
educators decrease their reliance on pictures of models technologies can be used in class to provide opportunity
in ways that enhance the learners' thinking and modeling for real-time adjustments to a lesson, while others alert
skills?‖ It is likely that effective analogical models will he students to errors in their thinking. Many assistive
developed by educators and writers that appreciate the technologies are available to enhance the learning
variableness of learners' models and that are experience for students with disabilities. Educational
experienced with learners' models during learning. technology has the power to enhance communication.
With a laptop computer and an Internet connection,
students and teachers may access research and
Use ICT resources beyond the walls of their school and share
paperless reports that are rich in content and
Activity: think of some ways that ICT can help you appearance. Teachers can respond to students at any
improve your teaching. time from any location via e-mail and social networks.
Information and communication technology (ICT) opens Teachers can, if desired, interact online with colleagues
up a new educational world of creativity for students and throughout the world, in real time, from their classroom
teachers. ICT plays an important role in planning lessons desks; engage in professional development and
and in their management (Grimaldi and Rapuano, 2009). conference calls, complete with audio and video
The use of ICT could be divided into two groups: in the components. High school teachers are strongly
first group a computer is used as a tool for finding encouraged to take advantage of such opportunities, as
information, communication and multimedia and in the appropriate. Finally, teachers must stay current on the
second group the computer is a scientific tool such as a ever-evolving tools of educational technology and choose
virtual laboratory, interactive simulation, computer- those that are most useful in terms of the value they
assisted laboratory work (Šorgo et al., 2007). might add to the chemistry curriculum.
The use of computers in science subjects, particularly
chemistry, has some specific advantages. Cognitive
psychologists assume that the understanding of Use assessment and evaluation
chemistry includes the ability to think on three levels: the
macroscopic level, the symbolic level and the level of Activity: What is assessment? What is evaluation? How
particles (Johnstone, 1991). Pupils and students have the do you assess your students‘ performance?
079 Int. J. Educ. Res. Rev.
Regardless of the lesson format that is chosen, teachers ―Why do we have to know this?‖ from students, teachers
must prepare appropriate questions in advance to assess should develop a context for learning. For example,
student understanding during each phase of the lesson. students could work in teams to investigate local air
These questions include an engaging question at the quality, learn the nutritional value of their favorite foods,
beginning of a lesson to determine what students already or discover the effects of fertilizer on water quality.
know, probing questions during the lesson to guide Finally, providing students with time to reflect on their
student learning, and end with closing questions to gauge new learning through journaling or searching for real-
what students learned at the end of the lesson. The world examples will help ensure their understanding
opening questions should be answered by students with endures past the closing bell. One popular strategy is to
the understanding that the purpose of answering the ask students to complete exit cards with prompts, such
questions is to confront students‘ initial ideas, not for as ―Today I learned . . .,‖ ―I would still like to know more
students to have the ―right‖ answer. For example, a about . . .,‖ or ―I still don‘t understand. . . .‖ Another idea
lesson about intermolecular forces could begin with a for student reflection is to ask them to write a letter to a
question about how pollutants (and other substances) relative or a friend explaining in nontechnical terms what
dissolve in water. Often these questions uncover native they learned in chemistry that week.
ideas or misconceptions which will be addressed later in In chemistry, well-planned lessons include effective
the lesson. During the lesson, effective questioning questions, student interaction with new ideas, and
techniques help students develop their critical thinking student reflection—all focused on the conceptual learning
skills, as well as their ability to solve problems. The goal. Chemistry teachers should capitalize on the
questions should help students make connections to importance of chemistry in everyday life to engage their
other learning. To determine what students truly students, and then follow through with opportunities for
understand, open-ended questions are much more them to actively explore newly introduced concepts.
effective than questions that have only one answer. Advance planning will reap big payoffs in student
Student engagement may begin with a provocative motivation and deepen their understanding of topics in
question related to students‘ lives, or a puzzling chemistry. An assessment is not a ―test‖; however, a test
discrepant event to challenge prior conceptions. Many is one form of an assessment. An assessment
chemistry teachers enjoy beginning a lesson with a incorporates a wide variety of tools for informing and
demonstration or video clip that makes students think improving instruction, for helping teachers and students
about the topic in a different way. Sometimes even a improve their understanding of content, and for
simple demonstration paired with a good question is evaluating student performance and establishing grades.
sufficient to spark student learning. For example, asking Teachers have a responsibility to not rely on only one or
―What are the bubbles made of?‖ while pouring water two major assessment tools in their chemistry course.
from a pitcher into a beaker will encourage students to Some students excel in writing, some in math; while
think more deeply about everyday experiences. This can others may be strong speakers or artists. Some students
be followed by heating the beaker of water on a hot plate are pressured by written exams, and some are not. The
and discussing the difference between the small bubbles evaluation of student learning must use a combination of
viewed initially and the large bubbles produced when the different assessment tools along with the corresponding
water boils. Asking students how they can test their ideas planning and follow-up activities.
about the composition of the bubbles lead to a much Teachers must first answer a very important question:
deeper understanding than providing them with a step- ―Do you want to know how well your students are
by-step lab procedure, or telling them the answer. learning?‖ Teachers who really want to know what their
Chemistry students must be good problem solvers. students know and understand will assess and reflect
Solving problems is an active, messy process, which is every day. Teachers should welcome evaluations of all
often frustrating, but the process can be rewarding. types. Proper assessment will be used to continually
Thomas Edison didn‘t invent the light bulb by following a adjust the classroom environment to improve learning.
recipe. He developed more than 1,000 faulty light bulbs Teachers must recognize that even excellent programs
during the process. Students must learn to explore can be improved. An assessment of a chemistry lesson
problems and understand that taking a ―wrong‖ step is can be measured using a quiz, lab practical exam, written
often as valuable as following the correct path. Students exam, or student satisfaction survey (formal); or can be
should be observant during the problem-solving process evaluated through observations or conversation. A
to evaluate whether they are getting closer to, or farther formative assessment is accomplished during the
from, the desired solution. When modeling problem learning process (as knowledge is ―formed‖), which
solving, teachers should model their own thinking to help includes observing classroom and laboratory activities,
students see how experts think through a problem, posing questions during a lesson, taking a poll, or having
starting with the given information and ending by an informal conversation. A summative assessment is
determining if the answer is reasonable. Cooperative performed at periodic intervals to assess a collection of
learning strategies could be employed to help students knowledge at a particular point in time.
solve meaningful real-life problems. To avoid cries of A summative assessment includes quizzes, exams, lab
reports, and term papers. Personal journals may be used While reading a textbook of chemistry, I came upon the
to encourage periodic self-reflection to help students statement, ‗nitric acid acts upon copper‘…and I [was]
assess their progress. Local assessment tools are often determined to see what this meant. Having located some
very good for measuring locally identified student nitric acid….I had only to learn what the words ‗act upon‘
outcomes. Local tools are often designed by the teacher meant…. In the interest of knowledge I was even willing
or a colleague and can be formatted any way that is to sacrifice one of the few copper cents then in my
desired. They do not compare students beyond the local possession. I put one of them on the table; opened the
boundary and can require much time and effort to bottle marked ‗nitric acid‘ poured some of the liquid on
develop. Third-party assessment tools have the the copper; and prepared to make an observation. But
advantage of being unbiased and statistically valid. It is what was this wonderful thing which I beheld? The cent
usually easy to administer and requires little preparation was already changed, and it was not a small change
time. Some tools, such as those from the ACS Exams either. A greenish blue liquid foamed and fumed over the
Institute, can provide objective national or regional cent and the table. The air… became colored dark red….
ranking of performance. Many schools track the How could I stop this? I tried by picking up the cent and
performance of their students who take subsequent throwing it out of the window…I learned another fact;
chemistry courses at a post secondary institution. This nitric acid… acts upon fingers. The pain led to another
can provide an unbiased comparison of local students unpremeditated experiment. I drew my fingers across my
with a general population of college chemistry students. A trousers and discovered nitric acid acts upon trousers….I
third-party assessment can be expensive. It may provide tell it even now with interest. It was revelation to me.
only one aggregate score and may not be ideal for Plainly the only way to learn about such remarkable kinds
measuring local outcomes. of action is to see the results, to experiment, to work in
A complete assessment involves four essential the laboratory. (Adopted from Gutman, 1940).
components: planning, gathering, analyzing, and action. The chemistry laboratory represents a wonderful
A credible assessment of a chemistry program will be opportunity for making the connection between the
based on information from a wide variety of assessment unseen microscopic world and the observable
tools over a span of several years. The gathered macroscopic world in which we live. Laboratory
information must be carefully examined and must be experiences provide opportunities for team building,
used to enhance student learning and to improve the inquiry-based learning, hands-on activities, and exposure
program. to standard laboratory equipment and technology.
Though an excellent laboratory experience will certainly
require hours of behind-the-scenes work on the part of
POINTS FOR DISCUSSION the teacher, a laboratory need not have the latest
technology to be effective. Many, if not most, of the
Discuss the primary objectives of testing concepts and principles common in high school chemistry
(examining) students. courses can be demonstrated or discovered through
Comment on the following Questions: experiments performed with simple apparatus. Of course,
o Helium is not an unreactive gas. all experiments should be evaluated carefully for scientific
(TRUE/FALSE) accuracy, and appropriate safety guidelines and
o Carbondioxide is A) acidic B) basic C) warnings, prior to use in the classroom. Within any given
neutral D) amphoteric chemistry curriculum, teachers should develop instruction
iii) Which of the following noble gases is that is student-centered and emphasizes concrete
used in electric light bulbs? A) Mg B) Ar examples of the concepts and principles to be learned.
C) W D) He Student-centered lessons place emphasis on the
o Which of the following is/are transition students‘ learning rather than on the teachers‘ activities
metal(s) A) lead B) Cu C) gold D) Sb and teaching.
o What is the volume of 22.4g CO2 at Chemistry is a laboratory science and cannot be
STP? A) 11.2 L B) 22400mL C) effectively learned without robust laboratory experiences.
22.4dm3 Indeed, the identification, manipulation, and general use
o How often do you give comments to of laboratory equipment are integral parts of the subject
students about their performance on of chemistry. A high school laboratory should have the
tests, assignments, home works etc.? equipment necessary to conduct meaningful
Use the school chemistry laboratory demonstrations and experiments. The physical laboratory
Activity: After reading the following story, express environment must be accessible to all students. Teachers
your feelings of learning through practice. must understand that students with limited strength or
mobility can have a full laboratory experience with
Ira Ramsen (1846-1927), wrote his memories as a child appropriate accommodation, such as a lab assistant.
experiencing a chemical phenomenon as follows: Instruction that is student-centered and emphasizes the
081 Int. J. Educ. Res. Rev.
role of laboratory demonstrations and experiments is the
best method to ensure that students develop these Possess Professional Preparations and highly
essential skills in science. Laboratory exercises should qualified teacher characteristics
come in three phases: the pre-lab, the lab procedure, and
the post-lab. In the pre-lab, students consider the concept Activity: Mention ten qualities and ten responsibilities of a
or principle to be investigated. They predict and good teacher.
hypothesize. Effective pre-lab questions can prompt
students to review and recall previously learned material
that is pertinent to the lab. In the lab experience, students Discuss the following points
learn to plan their actions, and to identify and control
variables; they observe measure, classify, and record. Teacher‘s voice does matter on the behavior of students
The post-lab challenges students to analyze and interpret in the class room.
data, evaluate the effectiveness of the procedure, Knowing students by name contributes to the well being
formulate models, and communicate their findings in of the class room.
written and oral formats. In the post-lab, students can The teacher‘s wearing style has some effects on the
also relate or compare the results and concepts to known students‘ behavior.
phenomena. When conducting a laboratory exercise, it is Research showed that students learn more from
important that the students not know the outcome teachers with certain Characteristics. Teachers differ
beforehand. For this reason, it is often appropriate to greatly in their effectiveness, but teachers with and
carry out a laboratory activity before the related concept without different qualifications differ only a little. Berry
is presented. (2002) posits that while these teacher qualities are
Laboratory experiences, whether demonstrations or indeed important they appear to have a ―singular focus
true experiments, must emphasize and model the on content knowledge‖. Highly qualified teachers must
investigative nature of science. Students should also know ―how to organize and teach their lessons in
experience science as it is and not as a simple ways that assure diverse students can learn those
verification of concepts and principles already taught or subjects. Highly qualified teachers don‘t just teach well-
assessed. Laboratory exercises should not be in the form designed, standards-based lessons: They know how and
of a ―magic show,‖ which is not specifically linked to why their students learn.
particular concepts and principles of chemistry. Most people would agree that good teachers are
Teachers should consider a variety of factors to make the caring, supportive, concerned about the welfare of
chemistry as ―green‖ as possible when they are designing students, knowledgeable about their subject matter, able
or choosing a laboratory activity. This would include to get along with parents…and genuinely excited about
consideration of the scale of quantities used, the amount the work that they do….Effective teachers are able to
and category of waste generated, and the proper in-class help students learn. A teacher who is excited about the
disposal methods for chemical wastes. A number of subject being taught and shows it by facial expression,
green chemistry resources are available to help teachers voice inflection, gesture, and general movement is more
choose experiments most appropriate for the learning likely to hold the attention of students than one who does
objectives, with minimal environmental impact (ACS not exhibit these behaviors. This is true whether or not
Green Chemistry Institute (GCI), 2011). teachers consciously perceived these behaviors in
The laboratory should be arranged so that instruction themselves.
and lab skills may be practiced safely and effectively. Research on enthusiasm of the teacher is strongly
Classrooms devoted to science instruction containing connected to student success. Cruickshank, Jenkins and
scientific equipment and supplies should not be used for Metcalf (2003) report that effective teachers are
other activities or non-science courses. The enthusiastic, have warmth, and possess a sense of
classroom/laboratory needs to be vacant one period per humor.
day for safe lab setup and proper cleanup. Teachers
must have adequate preparation time. Lab activities
should only be conducted in a science classroom/lab that Fairness
is outfitted with proper hardware and safety equipment.
Each laboratory should contain a fully equipped teacher As humans, we possess an ingrained sense of fair play.
station suitable for demonstrations and lab work. Student Whenever we are dealt with by someone in a manner
workstations should be arranged throughout the that violates what we think constitutes fairness in the
remaining work area. situation, we react negatively. Any semblance of
The chemistry laboratory may contain moveable lab favoritism, or lack of fairness, can leave scars that last a
stations or fixed lab stations. The latter allows for a more lifetime. While feelings and competition between
productive use of time because the facility is always classmates can be intense, the memories of unfair
available. teachers are reported by our students in great detail, even
after many years have passed since those negative students for who they are. Teachers who bring their lives
school experiences. and stories into the classroom build trust with their
students. Teachers who tell stories of events in their own
lives which relate to subject matter currently being taught,
Positive Attitude captivate student interest and promote bonding with the
students. Additionally, teachers who have gotten close to
Borich (2000) suggests that effective teachers are those their students have done so by finding out as much about
who use meaningful verbal praise to get and keep their students as possible. Teachers who show interest in
students actively participating in the learning process. their students have interested students.
Cruickshank, Jenkins and Metcalf (2003) write that
effective teachers are generally positive minded
individuals who believe in the success of their students Sense of humor
as well as their own ability to help students achieve. As
we all know, there are people in life who are inclined to Students fondly remembered teachers for their sense of
see the glass half empty and there are others who humor. If a teacher has a quick wit and the ability to
usually see it half full. It is important to ―catch students break the ice in difficult situations with the use of humor,
doing things right‖ rather than ―catching them doing this is an extremely valuable asset. According to
something wrong.‖ Effective teachers develop ways to McDermott and Rothenberg (2000), students enjoy
remind themselves to do this, and the impact on students teachers with a sense of humor and found those teachers
can last many years. Our students often recall praise and made learning fun. As long as it is not at any individual‘s
recognition that teachers gave them as young students, expense, good teachers can occasionally enjoy a laugh
and they point to the confidence and direction that often with the class and they can also laugh at themselves.
resulted in their lives. Students recognize the strength reflected in teachers who
are not threatened by foolish or silly mistakes that they
make. Since students sometimes find themselves in
Preparedness similarly embarrassing situations, good teachers can
provide a wonderful model for how to deal with an
It is easy for students to tell if a teacher is prepared for embarrassing situation effectively.
class. Even young children know when a teacher is
organized and ready for the day‘s lessons. According to
informal surveys, nothing frustrates a student more than Creativity
to come to class and be assaulted by a teacher who has
no idea what he or she is doing. Competence and Many of our students remembered unusual things that
knowledge of the content area being taught is something their teachers did in their teaching and the creative ways
that our students have always mentioned about their that they decorated the classroom or motivated the
favorite teachers and is strongly supported by current students. For example, one teacher was remembered for
literature. Students pointed out that in classrooms where an old bathtub painted green and fills with pillows and
teachers were well prepared, behavior problems were books designated the ―Reading Tub‖. Another teacher
less prevalent. The well-prepared teacher is more likely was remembered for an igloo that she had in the back of
to be able to take time during lessons to notice and her room. Constructed out of plastic bottles glued
attend to behavioral matters, and is less likely to miss the together in the shape of an igloo, it provided an enclosure
beginnings of potentially disruptive activity. If, on the into which children who earned the privilege could go and
other hand, teachers have not invested sufficient time in work quietly on puzzles and word-finds.
planning and preparation, they tend to be so focused on Other teachers had large trunks in their elementary room
what they are doing that they miss the early signs of full of dress-up clothes, offering a fun activity for rainy
misbehavior. This ultimately results in frequent disruption, days. Some teachers were remembered specifically for
waste of valuable instructional time, and student their unique ways of motivating their class. One teacher
frustration. had challenged the class to reach a particular academic
goal. If they did, she promised to kiss a pig. They
reached the goal and she kissed the pig!
Students have always mentioned the fact that their Willingness to admit mistakes
favorite teachers are connected with them in a personal
way. Teachers who convey a personal touch with their Something that we all appreciate in others is their
students call their students by name, smile often, ask willingness to admit mistakes, and it is also long
about students‘ feelings and opinions, and accept remembered by students. Like everybody else, teachers
083 Int. J. Educ. Res. Rev.
make mistakes. Unfortunately, some teachers think that and Reynolds (1999) report that students of teachers with
their authority in the classroom can be undermined by high expectations learn more as teachers‘ expectations
these mistakes and they try to let them go unnoticed or rise. Teachers‘ expectation levels affect the ways in
cover over them quickly. Students quite obviously have a which teachers teach and interact with students. In turn,
different opinion. They are fully aware of the times when these behaviors affect student learning. Generally,
teachers make mistakes, especially when they somehow students either rise to their teachers‘ expectations or do
suffer from them. Teachers who recognize their mistakes not perform well when expectations are low or non-
and apologize for them when they affect the students existent. The best teachers were remembered as having
provide an excellent model to give students, and a great the highest standards. They consistently challenged their
way to be remembered as a favorite teacher. students to do their best. Many of our students reported
that they had little confidence in themselves as
youngsters. Parents or siblings had told them that they
Forgiving were dumb and the children believed it to be true. When
their teachers expressed the fact that they believed in
Most of us have a bad habit of labeling others, and those their ability, it served to energize them and encourage
labels can sometimes stick for as long as we know the them to reach new heights. Some ended up choosing
person. They become ―lifers‖ for us, and our interactions careers in areas that they were originally encouraged in
with these students are consistently colored by what we by these teachers. Expectations are often self-fulfilling,
expect to see. All those associated with education know and must therefore be expressed with care and
that there are frequently personality conflicts between consideration. Favorite teachers apparently have a talent
teachers and students. It is often blamed on bad for doing that.
―chemistry.‖ Whatever the cause, it can have a disastrous
effect on the child caught in this relationship, and can
result in a year of frustration and academic failure. Our Compassion
students had plenty of memories of teachers who ―had it
in for‖ one student or another, but their accounts of Hopefully, school is a place where children can learn and
favorite teachers reflected a willingness to forgive be nurtured in an emotionally safe environment. The
students for misbehavior and a habit of starting each day reality of most classrooms, and in fact just about any
with a clean slate. gathering of youngsters, includes a significant amount of
cruelty and hurt feelings. All insensitive, uncaring, or
deliberately malicious behavior cannot be eliminated from
Respect such situations, but a caring teacher can have a
tremendous impact on its frequency. Students have
Teachers universally wish for their students to respect related numerous stories over the years about how the
them. We have found from discussions with our students sensitivity and compassion of a favorite teacher affected
that those who are given the highest amount of respect them in profound and lasting ways. Cruickshank, Jenkins,
are those who give respect to their children. Favorite and Metcalf (2003) reported that effective teachers are
teachers were remembered for keeping grades on papers supportive to students in multiple ways and help to meet
confidential, for speaking to students privately after their needs for belonging and success. These teachers
misbehavior or when the teacher needed some were remembered for noticing when children were left out
clarification, in contrast to public rebuke. Favorite of games on the playground and for taking action to
teachers were remembered for showing sensitivity for prevent such things from happening. Such simple actions
feelings and for consistently avoiding situations that eliminated the embarrassment that many children have to
would unnecessarily embarrass students. Such behavior face every day. And from our students‘ recollections, it
is obviously appreciated by students, and according to was clear that such wise behavior was remembered
those in our classes, repaid with respect and love for the vividly years later.
Sense of belonging
One thing repeatedly mentioned by students was the fact
Our students often have mentioned the expectations that that they felt like they belonged in the classrooms taught
their favorite teachers held for them. According to Irvine by favorite teachers. They recalled that these teachers
(2001) ―students defined caring teachers as those who developed a sense of family in their classrooms. A variety
set limits, provided structure, held high expectations and of strategies, long used by teachers in the classroom,
pushed them to achieve‖ (p. 6-7). Teachers with positive were remembered. Classroom pets, random act of
attitudes also possess high expectations for success. Gill kindness awards, class picture albums, and cooperative
class goals were employed to build a sense of unity and REFERENCES
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examples of extracurricular opportunities sponsored by Standards-Based Instruction Chemistry:
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research programs for students and teachers. Science Education Standards. National Academies
The ACS ChemClub provides fun, authentic, and hands- Press: Washington, DC ; pp. 103–207.
on opportunities to experience chemistry beyond the Flinn Scientific, Inc. Teacher Resources, 2011:
classroom. The Chemistry Olympiad competition brings http://www.flinnsci.com/teacher-resources.aspx
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test their knowledge and skills in chemistry. Project National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
SEED is a summer research program for economically (2006). The School Chemistry Laboratory Safety
disadvantaged students. Also, teachers may consider Guide: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/
encouraging his/her students to apply to one of the many pubs/niosh2007107.pdf (accessed Feb 5, 2012).
summer programs that provide students with academic National Science Teachers Association (2007). NSTA
enrichment and real-world experience in higher institution Position Statement: Liability of Science Educators for
chemistry laboratories. Laboratory Safety: http://www.nsta.org/
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learn, important and applicable we always need to find Standard: Occupational Exposure to Hazardous
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