So it turns out having a developing but getting more awesome teacher voice has its drawbacks. The cough is still there and I am starting to sound like I’m a chain smoker what with the throat clearing and hacking cough and all. But on the bright side I think I’ve found my groove with this new placement and these students. This means I have also found my counter-sassing abilities again. Counter-sassing, for those of you that are unfamiliar is a classroom management tactic I find effective. If a student gives you a bit of friendly (or sometimes unfriendly sass), the key is to use humor to diffuse the situation while addressing a behavior at the same time. Hence the counter sass. An example happened in Wednesday when I had to tell pair of girls to make sure they were paying attention to instruction before they did their lab. One of them said, “are you calling us out, mister?” With my best California Valley Girl impersonation I replied with a “uh, yah.” It was a good moment for me. I knew the student enough that her comment was more about how I would respond and that she does well with humor. Knowing both those things I responded in the way that I did. Five minutes later she called me for help and the little moment was nothing more than that.
I have heard many people say that biology is the first science taught in high school because it is the most relatable to a student’s daily life. While this is true, it also comes with a huge drawback: because students have had their experiences with biological concepts, they also bring with them a set of misconceptions or come into a topic with partially constructed knowledge in a wide possible range. For example, say the words “endocrine system” and you might get a few blank stares. Say “hormone” or “adrenaline” and student’s prior knowledge and misconceptions will come forth. Even though the terms are all closely related, their connection and their scientific purpose are not as strong. In biology, the slate is less blank than it might be for other sciences, which is both a blessing and a challenge.
That was the main motivation for the decision I made when I came up with the Endocrine System model I had the students do. I wanted them to use their prior knowledge, but in a place where their misconceptions would not hinder their learning and could be dealt with at a later time, when they had more understanding to go off of. The model had the students use their understanding of shape specificity (that they learned through enzymes) and the body systems (which we had just talked about for two days prior). I also picked hormones which were familiar, but used their scientific names as to prevent those misconceptions popping up until later. By calling it epinephrine instead of adrenaline, students would be able to go through the model with a hormone and focus on the model rather than what they think adrenaline does to the body.
I think one main thing I might change is that I would have the students try and deduce what the individual parts of the model corresponded to rather than me telling them. It would have grounded the model better and contextualizing it would have been a better experience.
Since the next units coming up for me will be in genetics and evolution, there will be mixed prior knowledge and misconceptions aplenty, so balancing prior knowledge is a skill I will get some good real experience in.
Until next time! And while there is lesson planning, edTPA, and the ol’ job search. There’s always the little things… like a week to sleep in, catching up with friends and family for real, and moments to just make a cup of tea/coffee and stare out a window, so enjoy.