Blood. Marine life. Laboratory test. Hospital. Animals. Covid-19. These are common keywords that are linked to the study of Biology. Many students often feel overwhelmed when they look at the thickness of Biology textbooks or when they search for Biology related information online. It is seemingly endless.
Before they know it, a reliable and good Biology teacher steps into the big picture. He/she begins to break down complex concepts, systematically explain life processes and effectively organize the facts through similarities and differences in themes and topics.
Can anyone be a Biology teacher/tutor and why do we need to teach Biology?
Why is Biology important to be taught?
Here are some important reasons why the teaching of Biology is important in today's education:
a) It is the study of all kinds of living things
From the smallest living organisms (bacteria) to the largest living organism in the world (a humongous fungus aka mushroom), the study of Biology encompasses the formation, birth, reproduction, organ system, and even the ultimate decay of a living being.
b) It can save lives and improve the quality of our environment
Why do we study body parts, organ function and the role of enzymes and genetics? These core bits of knowledge form the foundation of medicine, nutrition and even pharmacology. For instance, students get to learn about various genetic disorders such as Thalassemia and Albanism when they are studying genetics.
You cannot leave out the role of biology to build a sustainable environment. Organisms such as enzymes, bacterias and even waste products can be used to produce bioplastic and biofuel through the biotechnology industry.
c) It acts as a bridge to many fields of study
It is no secret that our brain is one of the most complex organs. That is why there is a Biology specialisation that deals with the study of the brain and the central nervous system - Neuroscience.
The study of Neuroscience is extremely broad. Apart from Biology, it also involves the field of Chemistry, Psychology, Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science, which encompass studies on our emotions, senses, memory formation and disintegration, and sleeping habits.
Hence, Biology is often paired with many branches of Science subjects. For instance, the teaching of Chemistry with Biology will enable students to pursue a career in the Biochemistry field. On the other hand, when Biology is paired with the education of Physics, students can also venture into a niche industry such as biomedical engineering.
Preparing to be a Biology tutor in Malaysia
You will be wondering what do you need to prepare before you venture into Biology tutoring. Are there any specific qualifications?
First and foremost, you need to ensure that you took the Science stream for your SPM level or you have a Biology related degree. Assuming that you have studied and sat for the examination of the three Science subjects (Biology, Chemistry and Physics), you are free to choose to teach any Science subject that you want to.
You can have a checklist of questions to refer to before deciding to be a Biology tutor.
1. Is Biology your favourite Science subject?
2. Is Biology one of your strongest subjects?
3. Are you passionate about life sciences?
4. Are you patient to explain various living processes to students with different learning levels?
5. Do you really have time for tutoring if you have a full-time job?
If you answer YES to all of the five questions above, then you are on the right path to embark on this new journey as a Biology tutor.
How to start a tutoring ad/promote yourself as a Biology tutor?
So, you have decided to become a Biology tutor. It is now to put your intentions into direct actions to produce visible results. Here are some ways to let others know of your new role as a Biology tutor:
a) Word of Mouth
This is THE classic method to spread the news. Let your close friends and family members know about your classes, so that they can naturally mention your Biology tutoring services during conversations with others.
b) The power of social media
What travels faster than the word of mouth? It is undoubtedly the World Wide Web! All it takes is just a simple post or story on Facebook or Instagram and you can receive an instant response from interested individuals. The sharing option is a great tool to reach a large audience in the shortest period.
Precision is the most important element when it comes to effective marketing besides budget and speed. You would certainly want to promote your services in a clear, cut and specific manner on a tutoring learning platform. Well, Superprof has them all! Superprof is a global learning platform that connects tutors with learners for various types of subjects.
You can also tutor more than one subject on Superprof! For instance, if you can teach all the three branch subjects of Science, you can list them down on your tutor's profile. This is absolutely the best way to find students as a Science tutor because your profile will then be reviewed by interested students with a specific subject(s) to learn in mind.
The bonus point? It is absolutely FREE to create a tutor ad with Superprof! Your tutor profile will consist of all your updated academic qualifications, teaching experience, mode of teaching, hourly rate, as well as reviews!
What do you need to take note of while teaching Biology SPM?
As a Biology tutor, here are some key things to prepare before starting your lessons:
a) Make sure you know the latest and complete KSSM syllabus of the Biology (4551) subject
Biology Form 4 (15 chapters)
Theme 1: Fundamentals of Biology
Theme 2: Physiology of Humans and Animals
Biology Form 5 (13 chapters)
Theme 1: Physiology of Flowering Plants
Theme 2: Ecosystem and Environmental Sustainability
Theme 3: Inheritance and Genetic Technology
b) Use CLEAR diagrams, illustrations and visuals during your lessons
Biology is not solely about facts memorization, it is also about correctly identifying and understanding the right position of the body anatomy, parts of animals, and plants.
For instance, students can be asked questions about the human heart and the cardiovascular system for their Paper 1 (objective questions) and Paper 2 (structured and essay questions) of the SPM Biology subject. Hence, it is important to teach students to not only remember the function of the various blood vessels and valves inside the heart but also their exact positions.
c) Facilitate open-ended Q and A sessions during and in between lessons
Given that most classes (for both school and private tutoring) are conducted online these days, participation and engagement are extremely crucial to make the best out of your Biology lessons with your students. One way to begin is by optimizing technology through discussion boards, such as Padlet, to facilitate ongoing discussion. Even if students cannot think of an immediate question, they can always go back to the board to type their questions or insights whenever and wherever they want.
Encourage your students to share the reason behind their answers and their ways of deducting the right answers when they are confused. Furthermore, this allows students to share and upload their worksheets or Biology SPM questions when they need assistance or clarification.
At the end of your lessons, make sure you summarize the whole discussion and learning outcomes constructively to make sure your students truly understand what has been taught and discussed.
What to expect for your first Biology tutor session?
Trust me, your student is as nervous as you during your first tutoring lesson. Your student may be too shy or intimidated by your identity as a tutor. Make your first tutor session less formal but effective at the same time.
It is good to first introduce yourself again and hear from your student(s) or their parents. You can start by asking your student about his/her hobbies, favourite subject in school, and his/her usual studying routine before moving on to talk about your lesson plan and class structure.
b) Managing expectations and learning outcomes
After the ice-breaking and some input from your student's side, you should be able to gauge your student's level of interest in the subject. Be sure to ask him/her about his/her learning style, weaker chapters or topics that he/she would want to improve on, so that you can make the necessary arrangements for future lessons.
You can also patiently explain him/her that your role is slightly different from a Biology teacher in school. Instead of teaching from page to page, chapter by chapter (or direct spoonfeeding lessons), you might apply a more proactive and specific approach by making use of past year papers or videos to teach about a particular concept.
You might let your student watch an animation of mitosis and meiosis to understand the steps of these two different processes when you plan to teach about cell division.
This would allow your students to participate in active learning by visualising the process and remembering the characteristics easily as compared to the passive way of hardcore word memorization.
I like to define biology as the history of the earth and all its life - past, present, and future. - Rachel Carson
This quote by American marine biologist Rachel Carson reflects the ultimate reason why Biology should be taught and learnt.
By becoming a Biology tutor, you are making the world a better place, one lesson at a time. Head over to Superprof to make this a reality and begin your first lesson!
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