I documented in the last post the path that lead me to becoming a teacher. It was a bit of a winding road, but ultimately has allowed me to find a career that is very fulfilling and exciting as everyday brings new challenges and changes. If you have been following along with this blog, you will know already that I had some teaching experience at an independent school from the time I spent in Maryland. When I let people know this and that I am also in a teaching certification program, many folks respond wondering what it is the program could be teaching me (especially the student teaching portion). Well to be quite honest, I have learned quite a bit already and anticipate that trend continuing into my third semester in the program.
Something that I was able to develop while teaching in the independent school was instinct and ideas regarding how I saw science education and how learners learn science best. These, however, were just that, instincts and ideas. I had colleagues I could bounce these off of, but I was often the senior most member of my department and lacked direct critique of these ideas and instincts. I lacked a framework that could guide these instincts; a measure against which I could place new pedagogy and practices. The program I am in has thus far provided me the theory that I lacked to create this framework. I have learned a great deal regarding how learners best experience education, what learning is, and how science can be taught most effectively. I have developed now the necessary frame that can guide the instincts and beliefs I developed while teaching in Maryland.
My student teaching placement has also been one of the best experiences I have had within my limited teaching career. I am receiving daily feedback, and have the opportunity to discuss every lesson I give. This has all been invaluable. Beyond this, I have also been able to witness truly effective and innovative science education in an urban setting. My setting in Maryland was quite different from the one I am in currently (one could imagine the differences between a independent school outside D.C. and a public school in Rochester). However, what I have seen so far is that students are often just that, students. We all bring with us different abilities and experiences that will certainly inform how we interact with content, but when provided with great models and excited teachers all students are in schools for the same reason. My current student teaching placement has really opened my eyes to what a public school science education can look like, and I am excited to begin attempting to integrate more of the progressive practices that my cooperating teachers are using into my own practice.