Mark Cheng

Physics Teacher
Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction

My Teaching Philosophy

A majority of the students that I teach are from backgrounds and ethnicities that are minorities within the science community.  These students have a lot to benefit from science, as it will provide them opportunities of a worthwhile career.  Just as they stand to benefit from this union, I believe science would also benefit from their presence as well.  I envision them as individuals who will not only expand the existing body of knowledge, but will also serve as effective communicators of science to the public.  As much as I would like all my students to pursue careers of science and engineering, my primary goal for all students is to realize the importance and the impact that science has on their lives.  I believe my duty as a science educator is to explain “how” a phenomenon works, rather than explain “why.”  Additional individualized attention needs be given to each student so that they can postulate and answer the “why” questions that are important to themselves.  These “why “questions can vary from, “why are the lights in my house wired to this one switch” or “why are these chemicals present in the foods we eat.”  Or even for them to look up at the sky and under the immensity of the stars and universe, ask “why am I here.”

Building Block Spotlight: Personal Mindset

I'm teaching personal mindset skills to my students so they develop metacognitive awareness of their own learning. I do not want my students to simply write notes or derive an answer to a question in my classroom. I want them to develop awareness of how to take notes that are useful for themselves and are able to articulate how they arrive to a particular answer.   Some of the ways that I plan to support students in building this particular skill will involve finding ways to encourage students to express their confusion and incorporate more personal reflection throughout the semester.  

What I'm Working on

  • Teaching personal mindset skills to my students.
  • Teaching students to generate (and revise) their own toolkit, routines, and resources that they can use whenever they encounter difficulty with solving problems.
  • Creating more online resources (such as a Google Group) that students will be able to use when they need additional help
  • Having students periodically assess and reflect on their learning and identify what they did well, could do better, and how they can improve.
  • Creating various resources that exist within the classroom that allow students to be more independent and autonomous