…that I find myself writing my first blog post. I never thought I would be doing anything like this. It’s been on my mind for quite some time to start a blog, but a blog as a science educator was never what I thought I would set out doing.
I’ve developed a love/fear relationship with teaching science over the 8 years I’ve been teaching. Science was never one of my favorite subjects in school. I always loved reading and writing, but science to me was boring, confusing, and difficult for me. For me, it was book work and worksheets. Only two times as a student did I get to truly love hands-on science experiences, and that wasn’t until high school and college.
My first year teaching 3rd grade I wouldn’t quite describe it as my ‘hell year’, like so many teachers I’ve heard describe their first year (that would come my third year). My first year was me stumbling and scrambling to get my life as a teacher (and wife and mother of two) in order. Science was taught on my team as read the lesson, do a worksheet. It was boring as sin!
Just trying to keep my head above water, I did that for more than half the year before finally going to the 5th grade science/math teacher across the hall for help. She gave me a very simple activity to do with my students. It was an AIMS activity on showing the food chain. As simple and easy as that sounds, it was like Christmas for my students and myself. They loved the activity! Something new and different! And no stupid worksheet! They proudly brought me their food chains and explained them to me. That moment still sticks with me fondly. It was the first step on the journey that has brought me here, and will carry me forward to where I’m wanting to go.
So where am I wanting to go? I’m wanting to go into an educational future where hands-on science is taught more in the lower elementary grades. I feel this is lacking for several reasons. One is testing. With the focus on reading and math, other subjects like science and social studies are getting placed on the back burner. There are ways to integrate these subjects, but that takes time and planning, another reason why hands-on science isn’t taught more in lower grades. It can take a lot of time and planning to do hands-on science activities.
Another reason I see hands-on science not being taught in lower grades is the scary factor. It’s what held me back for so long. When you don’t feel like an expert (and believe me, I’m not!), you don’t feel worthy of teaching the subject. You don’t feel like you are doing it justice. Many teachers tend to shy away from subjects they aren’t comfortable with (myself included). When you lack the content, you just want to get through it as quickly as possible. MISTAKE!
As educators, the best way for us to grow is to embrace that which scares the bejesus out of us. We should be pushing forward to better ourselves. Isn’t that what we want out students to do?
Some think this requires a major leap. WRONG! It takes a tiny step towards becoming better than what we are. A tiny step forward is so much better than standing still or retreating. Even a step as small as a food chain is better than nothing at all. That small step has completely changed my teaching of science and my outlook as an educator overall. It has taken me down roads I never thought I was interested in or wanted to take in the first place (like writing this blog).
Am I where I want to be as a science educator? NO! But I’m so much happier with my teaching of science than I was my first year. I am still working on making improvements as a science teacher in an all-inclusive classroom. Through this blog I hope to share my journey; where I started, what I’m doing now, and where I hope to end up one day (the beach sounds nice right about now). I also hope to encourage others to follow.