I have always thought I had some pretty thick skin and could let little comments roll off my back but I haven't been able let some comments from colleagues go.
Today in the staff lounge at lunch a colleague and friend made a comment about how she has had several students tell her they don't like science anymore and didn't like going. This comment crushed me. She said they do too much writing and they should be doing more hands on activities.
This year I started a new position in my building as the K-3rd grade science teacher. It was a well needed change from teaching 3rd grade language arts and I was excited about taking on the new role. Our science curriculum is a complete program which our district buys into. The kit for each unit is sent to our school with laid out lesson plans corresponding with the new science standards, science student journals and a built in assessment.
It has been 15 years since the classroom teachers have had to teach the science curriculum, myself included so I have been diligently learning the new curriculum. The lessons are a mixture of hands on investigations, read alouds, video clips, discussions and a lot of journal writing. Students are expected to describe and explain their learning. The assessment is mostly written responses with very little multiple choice which requires even the first graders to write answers to show their learning. Knowing that an assessment is not the only tool to determine understanding I use it in combination with their everyday work in the journals to establish a grade.
The previous science instructor had no expectations for student journal entries. Often times they did not even fill out the journal pages. They watched many videos, drew lots of pictures, and had free choice time during a 30 minute session.
How can I follow this?
I have expectations, they are required to participate in class discussions, write complete answers that are legible and they are held accountable. This curriculum is required to teach. Coming from a 3rd grade classroom I know the expectations and what the state assessment requires of students.
Science is called a "special" but it can't be categorized with music and gym because it is an academic core that is assessed.
This is my rationale but am I expecting too much? Should I be trying to incorporate more hands on and less writing?
Even though I am beginning to see some improvements in all of my students ability to write their thinking and learning or should I be trying to entertain and engage more with dazzling experiments. My principal is watching closely to see the results.
Should I get thicker skin or should I make some changes?