DIGGING in to The ROOT Issues of Challenges for STEM Teachers

DIGGING in to The ROOT Issues of Challenges for STEM Teachers

By: Hayley Johnson

I know, I know. That blog title may have one too many puns, but you get the message. Let me divulge to you some of my personal struggles in my current journey to becoming a science teacher, and share some advice from teachers who may be going through similar things.

How can we turn this flower’s frown upside down?

As a science teacher, I would initially say water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide; but let’s stick to the metaphorical pain that this plant is dealing with.

Here’s a peak at what we DON’T want to happen when faced with challenges:


Some current challenges…

-Our courses are very science-based so that we can ensure we are getting more exposure with the content knowledge, but am I missing out on more of the educational courses that would increase my teaching skills?

-What if my students don’t like me?

-How can I ensure my students are getting the most out of a lab/activity and actually learning, not just copying or following directions blindly?

-What if one of my students gets injured during one of my lab experiments?

-How can I make science culturally relevant to help my students feel included?

-How can I engage my students who do not have science at the top of their list of favorite subjects?

Some responses…

-Get to know your students on a meaningful level: Identify students interests, values, home life, traditions, communication style, etc.

-Science is EVERYWHERE. An essential element to turning students on to science is to show them how it’s used in their daily lives. Let your classroom explore and understand how this subject matter touches more in their day-to-day activities than they think.

Safety in the science laboratory requires common sense, preparation, and knowledge by teachers and students.

-We should not focus on if our students like us. What matters is that we have a god classroom environment that allows students to be safe and maximize learning and understanding.

^Don’t let the small things take over and make you feel overwhelmed- equip yourself with the right information and strategies to overcome challenges, and be as happy as this plant 🙂



  1. Hayley,

    I really liked the cartoon graphics you used throughout your post. It gave a sense of continuity that really kept talking about all these ideas light. I also really enjoyed the responses you included to the challenges. These, again, shed a positive light on content that can be considered a downer. They also provide helpful insight as to how to overcome some of your described issues above.

  2. Hayley,

    The concept of students liking us is incredibly tough to get over. We all know it. We don’t want our students hating us, our classroom, or even the subject we teach. Unfortunately not every student will like us and we have to learn to deal with that and work with a student that may not care at all. Students will naturally want to become disengaged when they don’t care about what you are talking about, but when you relate it to their lives they may re-engage! Excellent blog post!

    • Dillon,
      You make some awesome points! I think I need to get it through my mind that not all of my students will necessarily have to “like” me, but if I establish the right classroom environment with the mutual respect, the class will be more engaged, enjoyable, and managed. Thanks for the comments!

    • Dillon,
      You bring up some great points. I think I personally will struggle a lot with students not liking me because I know they won’t all always like me. I think the idea of mutual respect in the classroom will be more important than them actually “liking me” since having a safe and comfortable environment in my classroom. I think you bring up a great idea of relating it to their personal lives in order to keep them engaged. Thanks for the comment!

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