Welcome back to the last installment of An Interesting Perspective for the semester. I know I’ve been less consistent these past few weeks, but things have been hectic. Today though, we’re back on track and here to discuss different challenges that science teachers face, and offer a few tips on how to overcome these challenges.
One of my personal fears is to follow a career in which everything is mundane and repetitive. This is one of the reasons I chose to become a science teacher; every class period will be different. Working with and getting to know the students is something I am extremely excited for, but at the same time it can be somewhat daunting. You are influencing these kids, and may even have a long lasting impact on their lives. As great as that is, it’s also a lot of responsibility that you need to be able to assume.
As a teacher, not only is it your responsibility to guide these students in the right direction from a personal standpoint, it is also your job to teach them the content. This can be difficult at times for multiple reasons.
Everyone talks about standardized tests like they are some sort of flesh eating disease. However, it’s important to remember that these tests are designed to assess the students’ understanding of the standards. This means that if you are teaching your students the material well, they should do well on the test. Makes sense, right? Often times teachers get tripped up and focus on teaching students tips and tricks to do well on the test, rather than spending the time diving deeper into the content to build a better understanding in the minds of their students. So, remember, don’t teach to the test, teach to the standards and explore the natural world with your students. Don’t be afraid to use constructivism to relate the content to specific personal experience.
We talked a lot about this in our last installment, but there is no denying that classroom management is a challenge that many teachers face, especially new ones. If you’re interested in a more in depth discussion of this topic, feel free to stop on over to my last post, but I’ll give the cliff notes version here. It’s important to love your students, but you must hold your expectations high for each and every one of them. This allows for personal growth, as well as shows them that they’re in your classroom to learn and grow. It is also crucial to have an engaging classroom environment that makes all students feel safe, as well as being properly prepared before each and every class period.
The methods in which you present the material to the students is crucial for their understanding and engagement with the material. You cannot rely on just one method of presentation and expect all of your students to be engaged and follow along. You need to be flexible, and discover the ways that each student learns best. Often times, science teachers fall into the trap of using lecture to pass the information on to the students. This method may work for a handful of people, but many students struggle with this kind of learning. Instead, think about mixing up your methods by using cooperative learning, and don’t forget to venture into the margins.
— Todd Shalz (@mrshalz) March 2, 2018
The “Why Does This Matter” Mindset
The reality is, not all of your students are going to like the material you cover in your class. Some students will come in with a wall up in front of them. They will ask things like why does this matter, or why do I need to know this. As a science teacher, it is your job to help take that wall down. This isn’t necessarily an easy task, but it is a rewarding one. Everyone finds something interesting, so finding your students’ interests is crucial. This allows you to relate the material to something they do care about and are passionate about. Be sure to make every student feel that what they are learning has meaning in their lives. Don’t just focus on those that have natural interest in the subject. That would be mediocre; instead, be exemplary.
As with everything in life, there will be challenges that you’ll face as a teacher. Don’t shy away from them; rather, embrace them and allow them to make you even more exemplary!