Congratulations Mr. Thomson
Anderson-Livsey's 2013 Teacher of the Year
Philosophy & Beliefs of Mr. Thomson
In the service of humanity, there is no more honorable or important calling than educating our children to honestly observe, question, and think. Higher education is indispensable to civil liberty and to human happiness. It is the gateway to individual progress, and to the success of our society. And it requires ongoing vigilance against the easy comforts of self-deception, bias, and popular assumptions. A dedicated educator expects students to improve their judgment, and to awaken a deeper sense of understanding in themselves, with the end goal of contributing to the development of a committed, self-educating citizenry. And I believe that science education has done more to lift humanity from the poverty of ignorance than any other human discipline.
As Carl Sagan wrote, “Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.” Good teachers awaken students’ natural curiosity and coach their learning--and step out of the way. My greatest teachers’ strove to engage each student, and to recognize and encourage our unique insights and abilities. They challenged us to explore a wide variety of subjects, living things, and physical materials, often involving peer interaction and teamwork. They shared their passion for learning and their faith in our potential. They used our names often and personalized their interactions with each of us. Above all, they insistently dared us to think. These are the teachers I strive to emulate every day.
I create each lesson to grab my students’ attention and ignite questions in their minds, and then engage them in a hands-on challenge to find their answers. Through inquiry, students build their own understandings of the AKS science principles. What the students are doing during a lesson is far more important to me than what I am doing. I believe that student-directed learning helps our children to develop into life-long learners. As children make discoveries, I move among them, give encouragement and feedback, ask them to share their designs and observations with the class, or clarify direction when needed. This immediate and ongoing assessment quickly alerts me to which students are engaged in learning and which are in need of more explicit guidance. My focus is not on recording how many mistakes each child makes, but on insuring that quality learning happens for all students. In fact, I encourage my students to take the chances that may lead to mistakes, because mistakes provide so many valuable learning opportunities.