New Goals

I’ve always known what kind of classroom environment that I wanted to have. Students would be willing to participate without fear. That means that I can ask them questions onr on one or in a group setting and they would not have a fear that I nor anyone else would judge them for getting an answer wrong. To me, this also means that they would be able to ask me questions without fear of judgement.
I want this kind of environment because I want my students to know that being wrong is part of being a scientist.  Scientists are wrong all the time, and I want them to know that it is often knowing why the wrong answers are wrong that lead us to why the right answers are right.
In my first few weeks of teaching I found out a few things that do not work when trying to create this kind of environment. On one of my first days, I pulled a move that many of my high school teachers did, and I swore I never would do. There were a few girls taking while I was lecturing, and to get their attention, I started proding them with questions that they wouldn’t know the answer to, to prove my point. I had sent the clear message that if I was asking a student a question, it was because they were in trouble and I knew they couldn’t answer it correctly. Questioning instantly became a punishment and every day since then, I have had to work at changing that.
Another thing that I was brought to my attention was wait time before I ask a question to a specific student. If I wait a few seconds, it gives every one the chance to think about the question, instead of checking out because they know they don’t have to answer.
I have had my cooperating teacher take data on who I questiin and their level of cofidence when answering, thr more I focus on that target, the better I get at spreading out my questions to all students.  The more I question all the students the more I can judge how willing they are to give a risky answer, and I can slowly give them harder questions to answer without them having fear of getting the answer wrong.
Another target that I have asked my coop to start taking data on is my wait time. She counts the number of seconds that there is before a question is answered. The wait time varies depending on if my question is a recall question or a higher level like an analyzing question but I am striving for a wait time of 5 seconds. Also to work on the environment I want to create I am trying to ask multiple students what they think about the same question so that no one is put on the spot individually.  Today in my sciece nine class, I used this technique when asking students if they thought the demonstration represented a physical or chemical change.  I took a “hands up” vote for each kind of change and then asked one student from each side to justify why they thought it was that type of change before I told them which one it was. In most cases, students felt pretty comfortable justifying their answer in front of the class because they could see that other students thoughtthe samething as them, even if they were wrong. I thought this technique worked quite well today because even the shy ones were willing to provide an answer. 
If anyone out there has any suggestions of how they create an environment where kids are not scared to provide answers or get questions wrong, i’d love to get any advice!


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