The best and worst of any profession are the challenges that come with that profession.
As I have pursued this profession, so many what-if’s and doubts have popped into my head, most of them related to the challenges that come with science teaching.
- What if my students don’t care?
First off, deep in my heart, I know all students care about something. It is our job as teachers to find that something. With some kids, this search will be difficult- maybe the student doesn’t want to open up for feels this need to put a wall up around others.I was always that student who loved school, loved being on top of her work, and loved showing up to class and putting in an effort. I need to put more work into empathizing with those students who do not enjoy school, and who aren’t on top of turning in assignments or completing projects.
The first step in overcoming this challenge is finding out what your students are passionate about. Don’t portray yourself as this stone-faced teacher who doesn’t care about her students. Show your students you care.
- What if I fall into a lecture routine?
I always liked school, because I was able to sit still and pay attention during lectures, and could put time aside to complete assigned readings. Most students aren’t built for this passive learning. I need to be sure I don’t fall into a routine of lecturing and assigning readings, but that I use inquiry based activities to allow students to actively learn in my classroom.Lectures and notes from the textbook are the easy route, but you cut so many corners and deprive students of valuable experiences when you do these things exclusively. A mini-lecture or text book activity may be needed, but this shouldn’t be the bulk of the work.
While it takes more effort, inquiry based activities are the way to go, and you get so much more out of seeing students experience the wonder of science.
- What if my students don’t perform well on standardized tests?
I’ve heard it a thousand times, and I will hear it until the day I retire (or die): NEVER TEACH TO THE TEST.It makes sense. Teaching to the test takes all of the passion and wonder out of the science classroom. But what if I feel that pressure? What if my students don’t perform well, and my job is at risk? How do I not teach to the test?
There is SO much research out there to back inquiry based learning and hands on activities. When students collect, interpret, and develop visuals for their own data, they are learning so much about the scientific process. When students ask questions that seem far off topic, they are experiencing the wonder of science.
These hands on activities and class discussions will help students do well on the test; there is research to back this. Don’t give up on your methods, and don’t give up on your students’ ability.
- What if my school can’t afford to purchase supplies for certain lab activities?
My students are provided a textbook that probably cost the school a few hundred dollars. What if they aren’t willing to provide funds for the labs and activities that will benefit students?As a teacher, I think it is important that you are willing to take the responsibility of paying for some classroom supplies out-of-pocket, and yes, sometimes that will involve going to the dollar store and spending $25-$50 dollars on materials. The good news is, most of these materials can be reused, so it’s not like you have to make a sacrifice every year.
Teachers can complain all they want about having to buy materials for their classroom on a budget that is already pretty tight, but it’s the reality of the profession some days. And let’s be honest, we aren’t in it for the money.
- What if I can’t manage my classroom?
I’ve always felt that I’m a push-over. I have this feeling students can smell the fear radiating off of me, and that they will take advantage of that and walk all over me. I expect my ability to manage a classroom to get better each year, but I don’t want to have that reputation of that teacher that you can just walk over.
I don’t need to be a tough teacher. I don’t need my students to fear me. All I need to do is form class expectations, and stick to them. If a student disregards those class expectations, I need to address it, not just let it go.
Don’t be afraid of the challenges of teaching science. Allow those challenges to change you and mold you into a better teacher.
I thought your post was great! It provided a lot of useful tips and ideas for overcoming issues in your classroom. It also addressed many issues that I’ve been trying to overcome as well, so I found it particularly helpful. The one topic that really stood out to me was the topic of what if your students don’t care. The idea you presented about finding one thing each student is interested in (similar to what Chris Emdin described in his talk) is really powerful and will help students to relate to the information.
I relate to your blog post so well. A lot of the challenges I will face are similar. I’ve never felt that my presence in the classroom has been anywhere near commanding, and I will struggle to get students to listen to me, but we all have that inner teacher voice that will come out when needed. A fear of standardized tests is a big one for all future teachers, and I don’t have the fear yet, but after my first year or even during it, that might change. We just need to keep pushing through the challenges and facing them head on! Excellent blog post!!
Your blog actually addresses a lot of questions I’ve been asking myself for a while, and your responses to them are stellar. “Yes, of course kids care about something, don’t be so hard on yourself, you’ll figure it out.” “Yes, of course you’ll have to lecture every once in a while, but you have the tools to make it more interesting, cut yourself some slack.”. It’s really reassuring to see you try to put those fears to rest. It serves as a reminder that it’s okay to still be learning. Thanks a lot, and great work this week.
I loved your blog this week! I thought you did a good job showing some of the struggles that science teachers face. The one talking about standardized tests resonated with me most. I worry that my students won’t do well on the test even if I am doing all of the “right” teaching techniques. I also loved your videos! The first one made me so happy that I teared up. It is every teacher’s goal to touch the hearts of our students. Hearing those students finally tell their teachers how they impacted them is so heartwarming. I also loved the second video because we don’t go into this profession for the money. We do it for the future of the students and I think that is worth more than all of the money in the world! Well done!