One of the perks of this job is that I have the opportunity to work with teachers across the entire grade band (K-8) in our district. One of the challenges of this job is that I have the opportunity to work with teachers across the entire grade band (K-8) in our district.
My background and personal teaching experience is in the middle grades with most of my time spent in seventh- and eighth-grades. I did teach sixth-grade science my very first year of teaching, but that's it! So, truly I have direct teaching experience with three of the nine grade levels in our district. Yikes!
Hands-down, my biggest challenge of the year will be working with our K-2 teachers. Let me clarify, the challenge isn't the teachers. They're wonderful and it's a joy to have the opportunity to work with them. The challenge is having a vision and a picture of what K-2 science literacy looks like because they are so far removed from my own teaching experience.
Our STEM certificate program this year will have a K-2 STEM literacy focus. In part, this is because I'm playing a sneaky ninja trick and arranging for professional development that I myself need too. The wonderful Lisa Highfill is also a master of this trick. It is a need district-wide though and our K-2 teachers have needed their own professional development that is specifically geared towards emergent and early readers. They need to feel special and valued too. Everyone should, right?
So, that takes me back to my original question: What does K-2 science literacy look like? I know that our youngest learners are natural born scientists. They are wonderfully notorious for being curious and wanting to learn more about the world around them. So, I envision our K-2 students asking questions, observing their surroundings using their developing number sense and mathematical reasoning and sharing their findings through reading and writing.
Now that I've written that, I realize that's the same vision I have for the rest of our student population too. I just need to focus on learning more about the specific needs for emerging and early readers and how that will impact the greater vision for science in our district. I've applied for a space in the K-2 NGSS workshop at the CSTA conference next month and am hopeful that I will be accepted. I know the science. I just need to develop an understanding of K-2 pedagogy. Thankfully, I'm in a great district with amazing teachers. I just need to identify some rockstars in the K-2 world in our district that can help me make sure that I'm on the right track.
So, even though I'm in a position to train teachers, I have a lot to learn. And I'm okay with that. It's an opportunity to be a restless learner (see an earlier blog post) and continue to grow in my own practice. In that regard, it's certainly both a perk and a challenge. Exciting, huh?