Heather Bradstreet

CCTEFacultyFellow2013_HeatherBradstreet_MCE0877

Teaching Philosophy

What I hope to do for my students is use my experience as a scientist to bridge the gap between the way science is practiced and the way science is taught. I believe that anyone can learn and enjoy science because anyone can learn most important process skill which is “to think big.”

Science should be inclusive, inherent and interdisciplinary. It is not an isolated subject delivered for one or two hours a week. It should not be filler material. It should be that spark that drives wonder. Science is a time for students to be making discoveries about the universe, about how they view their world, about what part they will play in it, and their responsibilities and stewardship within their community. I believe that it is difficult for students to learn science when they are inactive and not alert; when they are in that state of wakeful sleeping known as passive learning.

What we, as science teachers must do is to create a learning environment where students search for meaning, appreciate uncertainty, take risks and most importantly, understand that they are the ones ultimately responsible for their own learning. What we must start doing is valuing student thinking and stop placing all the emphasis on curriculum mastery. We must abandon the mimetic approach to learning and implement practices that encourage students to seek, to think and rethink, demonstrate and exhibit. I must encourage student-to-student interaction, initiate lessons that foster cooperative learning and provide opportunities for students to be exposed to an interdisciplinary curriculum.

If we start by structuring learning around primary concepts (ones which are best understood when presented as wholes rather than isolated parts) and we incorporate some of the above-mentioned habits of mind; then we should start to see the creation of an inquiry-based, constructivist classroom. This is a classroom full of risk takers and problem solvers who feel good about themselves and who are responsible for their own learning. After all, it is their stewardship that will lead us into our challenging future. Thus, science teaching is interdisciplinary, inclusive, inherent, empowering and ensures stewardship. I look forward to the challenge of changing careers to teaching. I am confident that my passion for science, children and education will serve my students well.

Characteristic of my academic career is the close relationship of theory and practice. This action research is a continuation of that characteristic.  For additional information on my work in the Fellows Program, please see my report on Explicit Metacognitive Instruction for Processing Spatial Tasks in Earth Science.