When I first thought about teaching one of my main reasons was to try and ignite a passion for science in children.
I have a very interesting year 7 class, with a high number of children with extra emotional and educational needs and even several EAL students. However they are my favourite class, I have taught them since they all got re-arranged in to this class 3 weeks in to the term and I therefore feel like I have a special bond with them, we are all learning together. They even told me last week that I was their favourite teacher, the first time I have been told this and a moment I hope will stay with me long in to my teaching career.
However after receiving their scores for the end of unit test they sat in the last week before half term, I was very disheartened. The scores were very low, several in the class had done very well, but many not. Was this my fault, had I not been teaching it correctly? They has all been told to revise, all their books were up to date and they had all been completing the worksheets in class not problem…
New half term, new topic, new approach.
The first two lessons on states of matter and changes in states they picked up straight away, we had watched our usual videos, filled in sheets and designed posters, they we’re understanding all the questions in the plenaries and flying through the starter sheets I was giving them, we’re away I thought! And then we hit diffusion, after talking to them about it for 10 minutes and them copying down definitions and them telling me they understood it, I thought we were triumphing! I asked one of the children to tell me what diffusion was without looking at their book…. Silence fell over the class… ‘Can anyone help?’ I asked, silence.
‘Close your eyes heads down on the tables, now put your hands up if you are confident in understanding what diffusion is.’ Nothing. Not one single hand went into the air. I looked at my lesson plan, diffusion was objective one and we still had two more to get through by the end of the lesson. By this point heads were starting to pop back up and questions of ‘What next Miss?’ were being fired at me. Time to scrap the lesson plan I thought and get back to basics with them.
Half an hour later after discussions about smelly socks, their favourite food that their Mum cooks, their favourite squash and how strong they liked it (that wasn’t part of diffusion but they were all interested and partaking!). They put their heads down again and I asked the same question, this time every hand went into the air when I asked if they knew what diffusion was! Excellent, they really got this I thought as they left the room telling me each what diffusion was, this is my new approach.
Since then we have talked more about squash (I didn’t realise how much you could talk about squash in science!), we have built boats out of playdough, role played as states of matter and created posters and presented to the class, stripping science down the see it working in the world around us. I have just finished marking their mid-topic test and many of their scores are nearly double those from last topic and I feel like we’ve had a breakthrough. The children whom had been quite for the first half term and not joined in with class discussions are now joining in more than others and I have just been told that science is their favourite lesson! They are starting to develop that passion!
I have learnt several lessons from my class this term;
- Children need to be able to see science happening around them to fully appreciate it, to have a passion for it.
- Although a lesson plan is great, sometimes it needs to go out of the window.
- If you fall a little behind, don’t worry as long as the kids are understanding what they should be learning (although don’t tell my HOCA that, I don’t think he would agree!)
- Don’t always believe the children when they say they understand, they will follow everyone else and tell you what you want to hear! (Although I am choosing to believe them when they tell me I am their favourite teacher and science is their favourite lesson)
- Maybe my class are naturally better at Chemistry, but as a Biologist I refuse to believe this!
Jessica Carter- Mears