What I learned these last two years…

Some years I ask children to assess what they have learned in my class. This year, I think I ought to ask myself the same thing. What did I learn teaching over the past two years?

This year and last year, I added several curriculum areas to what I feel I understand and can teach well up through the middle school level: Physics of Light and Sound, Force, Energy and Motion, Simple Machines, Genetics, Plate Tectonics and Evolution, microbiology, Sex Education, Physiology.

I have also learned a tremendous amount about organizing a class, though I still have a way to go in this arena. It’s amazing the amount of material, ideas, time frames, and people we have to keep organized at any given time. For me, eight different grade levels, 75 students, fourteen different subject areas each year — or 27 over a 3-year span, twenty-five discreet lessons to teach each week for 30 weeks of teaching — or 750 discreet lessons! Three big projects for three different grade levels spanning 3-months each, including the first big “science fair” project the school has done, with a testing day and presentation day. I learned to guide students in making these project, in creating inventions.

I learned in the social-emotional realm, too. I got better at managing a classroom of children by helping them set up a Responsive Classroom-type rule system at the beginning, and reviewing in periodically throughout the year. I learned when to contact parents for behavior problems, and how to conduct a parent conference in this regard.

I responded to parent requests for stronger teaching of lab reports, and created a system for teaching and grading these — and watched student work improve!

I conducted my first long-term project-based learning project spanning the entire school population, and held a public exhibition of student work. I wrote grants and got money and volunteers to build and expand a school garden program. I held an exhibition of student work at a local community college so students could educate the community about nearby nature.

I led 75 student on multiple field trips into our local canyons, and gave some children their first exposure to nearby nature. I also took students on field trips that gave some of them their first exposure to a scientists’ lab, and a university setting.

 

I gave students a sense of how fun science could be, and integrated art, writing, technology and ethical inquiry into an inquiry-based science program. Many students said, “I had no idea science could be so fun!

I feel very fortunately to have been able to grow so much, and to offer an opportunity to grow to so many children. I feel proud and lucky to be a science teacher.

 

I

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