Reflections and Rochester

This week, as many of you are already aware of, is many of our first interviews for grown-up jobs. In preparing for this with the cohort I was prompted to reflect on all that we have done up until this point and find some shining moments for us to really highlight on Saturday. This reflection started for me at my first placement, since that’s where I really felt I got my teacher voice and persona down. However; after delving deeper into our journeys thus far it became more and more clear to me that all the hoops we jumped through for GRS are really rich experiences that, in retrospect, challenged me much more than my placements have. Now, that’s not to say that I haven’t felt overwhelmed and at the breaking point at either of my placements, but it does say, heck it screams, that science in all spaces (authentic, culturally relevant, scientifically relevant) plays a monumental role in a cultivating a student’s scientific identity.

At the placement I’m in right now I actually teach one of my campers from this past August. At camp this camper became my project for the week and I really wanted to get him invested like the rest of our team was at the time. However, at school these days that same camper, now my student, is a leader in the classroom and really identifies with science being a part of his life. Now, maybe at camp he didn’t want to be there, or he didn’t see the point, but something happened between camp and today where he gets it now. He’s already asking me what the investigation is going to be next year and was quite disappointed to hear that we wouldn’t be the team leaders again.

I have felt slightly out of place in middle school but have started to really get it as of late. Seeing as a good portion of my current students haven’t taken science formally yet in school many of them need many more scaffolds than at my other placement; where the students were older and more familiar with how to participate in science. These additional scaffolds that need to be included for my students have really started to push me back to camp and STARS where we had to make it relevant and fun for our learners to increase their buy in.

It seems like one of the ways to do this is to include the community, which is all over our evaluation rubrics and other Warner materials, but is a real challenge for some units. For my opening lesson in Evolution I taught about fossils and rock layers and based it all around the Rochester Gorge at Lower Falls, which is a familiar and relevant place to many of my students. My CT commented after the day was over that it all clicked together really well in that lesson, which was structured similarly to past lessons of mine, but it did have much more buy in from students of all abilities because they all have a story about the Gorge and all want to have some fun facts to take to impress their family members at home. Seeing how well this went for me I am publicly challenging myself to include more pieces of the community and surrounding areas of Rochester in my future lessons whenever it works. It really sparked some interest in my current students, including my past camper at camp, and I think it can promote the inclusion of science into a student’s identity, especially in students with less background in science who haven’t realized that it is really all around us all the time and so it is relevant to their lives.

2 responses to “Reflections and Rochester

  1. Jessica,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog this week! Your comments demonstrate your deep reflection at this point in the program. I cannot reinforce enough the value of incorporating local and accessible science for your students. It takes extra time, but I feel the buy in for your students in priceless!

    Andrea

  2. I think all the hoops we’ve jumped through will teach us a lot for years to come, once we have time to take a break and think about them!

    I would love to hear some examples of ways that you scaffolded better. I am slowly learning to accurately think in advance about student misconceptions. I haven’t taught new science learners yet, so the lessons you’ve learned are probably highly valuable.

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