“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn”
There are plenty of reasons why science has such a high demand when it comes to employment. One of those is common among all fields but I feel is something that is definitely amplified in the science – it’s HARD. It’s hard to teach and it’s hard to understand. One of the biggest issues that stems from this is keeping students engaged. It’s easy to get them engaged initially, but holding that engagement throughout a class period is so difficult once our elephant toothpaste is over.
Students come into your class maybe expecting to blow things up or something else super exciting like that – I mean, it’s science right? Instead, they get introduced to these abstract concepts like cells, vapor pressure, plate tectonics, inertia, etc. Maybe because of the degree to which science concepts are so abstract, science teachers often have to work extra hard to build understanding in their students while simultaneously working against misconceptions and keeping engagement.
As a science teacher, you’ll hear a lot of pushback:
- “Why do we need to know this?”
- “When am I ever going to use this?”
- “This doesn’t make any sense!”
- “I hate science.”
- “I can’t remember all this stuff!”
These aren’t exclusive to science at all. But what we need to do as science teachers is let students know that science is this monolithic thing that lets us understand the world. Students don’t hate science – they hate how they’re taught science. The biggest challenge in combating these oh-so-common phrases you will inevitably hear, and holding engagement, is instilling inquiry and varying instructional practices.
Teaching is hard, but teaching science is harder. It’s full of abstract concepts, and we have to make the abstract tangible in order to keep students engaged and enthusiastic about their learning. #EDT432 @AnnMacKenzie #differentiation #scienceteaching
— Chris Grant (@cwistipher) May 2, 2019
Science is not rote memorization or note taking. Yeah, you have to know a lot of things to be a good scientist, but that isn’t what K-12 schooling is for. Science is full of inquiry, argumentation, experimentation, and exploration – they don’t need to know what a golgi apparatus does for adulthood but the critical thought and development of conceptual understanding that is so important in adulthood can so readily be gotten through science. Engagement is so critically important in science and all of these aforementioned practices keep students engaged. As the TQLMM might imply…
Keeping students engaged is the most critical component in building understanding.
Now obviously we have to lecture sometimes, and that’s inescapable, but we can’t be like those lame social studies teachers. Like that example in our literacy reading of the teacher that only lectured for eight minutes at a time, understand your students and their biological limitations. We have to do a lot of different things all the time to help them. And though this can take a huge toll on us emotionally and mentally, it is 100% worth it.