Today I had an interview for a fellowship. It’s the first time that I’ve ever really been grilled about my grades in my content in my undergraduate work. College was hard for me, which is a struggle that I can use to relate to kids that may feel challeneged in my classes, but I’ve never felt uncertain with my content knowledge. I know a lot of weird facts about random biology things, and I’m sure that story-telling repertoire will continue to grow as I continue to teach.
In undergrad, one of my big interests focused around Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in honeybees. We first started talking about CCD in my Ecology & Evolutionary Biology lab, and then again in Animal Behavior. This was about the time when CCD was in the news and getting a lot of publicity. On my own farm back home, we had lost 3 out of our 5 colonies to CCD. The agricultural industry was taking a huge hit after losing a vast majority of its pollinators. For quite some time, scientists, farmers, and beekeepers alike were stumped.
On January 19th, an article was published in Farm and Dairy stating, “Researchers say honeybee deaths linked to seed insecticide exposure.” My father, a farmer and a beekeeper, has used my study of bees and CCD in attempts to uncover our own losses of honeybee colonies over the past few years. Not only has it been a bonding experience for us, but it has also allowed me to use my content knowledge in real-life situations.
Isn’t this what we’re searching for when we teach students?! Aren’t we constantly looking for ways to make learning relevant to students’ lives? I suppose this is innovation — taking a new topic in science and bringing it into the classroom. Bam.
*because I was grilled…get it?
After today’s seminar, it’s clear that this semester is going to be tough. We all know that I am the queen of finding things on the Internet machine, so I wanted to share this with the members of my most fabulous cohort.
This website is called “Emotional Bag Check”. It lets you unload your own baggage or carry someone else’s while sending them a song and a personal message of encouragement. I just spent 15 minutes sending songs to others that have checked their baggage, and let me tell you that it feels really awesome to just send someone a personal anonymous note of encouragement. So when we’re all super stressed during our 8-week placements, check your baggage and let someone else carry it for you.
Today I was absentmindedly flipping through last month’s issue of “The Science Teacher” while I was supposedly cleaning my apartment after being gone all weekend at a hockey tournament in Lake George. I came across an ad for Vernier LabQuests (OHEMGEE MY FAVORITE), but what caught my eye was this little question…
I do. And I'm going to tell you about it.
I remember falling in love with science in 7th grade. My teacher, Dr. Sister Grace Mary Holy Water (not her real name) was so strict that I was terrified to even breathe in her classroom, but she loved science and sparked a love of science within many of her students. For me, I fell in love with science during a discussion on animal behavior. At that point in my life, I was convinced that I was going to be a vet, and so I was fascinated by anything and everything related to animals. Whether it was an earthworm dissection or a competition to see who could extract the longest xylem from the root of a carrot, Dr. Sister Grace Mary Holy Water always had something up her sleeve.
But here’s the kicker – one does not only fall in love with science once. In 8th grade, I fell in love with science when Mrs. A listened to our concerns about global warming and sustainability and then brought in a guest speaker to talk to us about solar cookers. And then we made our own solar cookers, all while learning about insulation, measurement and how the Earth orbits around the Sun. In 9th grade, I cursed science while struggling through physics and never quite understanding how many significant figures to use in my lab reports. In 10th grade, I balanced equations and blew stuff up in chemistry (with a purpose, of course), and marveled at how one tiny mistake in DNA structure can cause a whole mess of problems on an organismal level. In 11th grade, I identified trees on campus and read my biology textbook for fun while on bus trips for hockey. By senior year, I was a full-on geek and had studied fibril formation of the protein synuclein at Case Western Reserve University, attended a talk about new technologies in genetic engineering with my AP Biology class, and learned enough about logic and reasoning to play Devil’s Advocate to anyone’s argument about a controversial issue in science.
Science can be found in very tiny things and in very large, over-arching topics. For me, science was fascinating when teachers started small and laid the foundation and then built up around that foundation so that new concepts were discovered along the way. It’s like the Aufbau principle of teaching.*
*Disclaimer: science jokes on this blog are not always funny.
Especially female science teachers. Nice.
A: “Miss S should change her decision to leave [school name] because we need her here and will miss her if she leaves.”
BRB, crying forever about leaving my kids and going to my second placement.
Setting: In ISS room, checking in with one of my students on his summative work.
Me: “Well, I’ll bring you down some materials tomorrow for your project, and then I’ll check in with you on Friday, but then I won’t see you anymore because my last day is Friday.”
D: “Oh…well, I guess you are a student-teacher.”
(It’s so cute when they forget that I’m not a real teacher.)
*TAMAS = Take A Moment And Smile
One of the biggest compliments you can receive as an athlete is being called “coachable,” or having the ability to take any critique or suggestion and implement it almost instantaneously. Is it bragging to say that I’ve been called coachable? I’ve been called coachable. And I pride myself on that.
So when my supervisor came in for an observation during 1st period today and had plenty of arrows for improvement, my hockey mind kicked in and immediately reflected on how I was going to change my game plan for 3rd period and perhaps again for a block with 7th. So I made those changes.
And it resulted in a break through in my own personal transition from student to teacher. I had a ridiculous amount of fun with 7th period, arguably our most difficult class. Normally, my CT and I will co-teach this class, as they seem to do better with 2 bodies in the room anyway and my CT has finally gotten to the point where the class is starting to be pleasant when they enter the classroom. (It has been a long journey for them.) I had a minor internal freak out when my CT asked me if I wanted to do 7th. But, as Barney Stintson says, challenge accepted, right? Right. I.kicked.butt. and I had so much fun and I know I must be doing something right because I felt like I could finally be myself in the classroom and I was myself and it was awesome (and this is a run-on sentence but it’s just for effect, you know?)
Icing on the cake: Part 1
-During 7th’s break at the middle of the block, I asked my CT if she wanted to take over when I was done with one portion of the lesson, or if she wanted me to continue with a check for understanding activity I had planned. Her response? ”Oh, keep going. And Katy? You’re doing great.” This is the first and most positive feedback I have received during my placement. That’s not to say that I haven’t gotten positive feedback, but my CT does not give praise freely. I could have jumped for joy and clicked my heels, but I probably would’ve tripped and made a fool of myself.
Icing on the cake: Part 2
-I knew I had to be up front with 7th period and not take any deviation from my directions, so the second that students were talking while I was talking, I pulled a little “oh no, there is no talking when I’m talking, etc.” I may have snapped my fingers a little. Under his breath, I heard a student turn to another student and say, “Yo, she’s sassy.” It took everything in my power to keep my poker face and not fall to the ground laughing. Day.made.