There are Band-Aid wrappers EVERYWHERE. Why? I have seven children, and most obtain minor scrapes on a regular basis and do not have the patience to wait for their parents to assist their needs. So when a scraped knee or rug-burned elbow occurs most of my children get their own adhesive bandages, but unfortunately leave those pairs of silky white wrappers behind. So what’s the problem besides a little mess? Being independent and resolving problems on your own is a good thing, right?
The reason I applied for the Christa McAuliffe Sabbatical is because I am concerned that as educators trying to improve science instruction, we are leaving behind Band-Aid wrappers all over the place. You see, a Band-Aid alone does not heal a wound – or solve a problem. If my wife and I want to ensure that our child’s boo-boo is completely taken care of, the cut needs to be washed, treated with antibacterial ointment, and then covered with a bandage.
Do not get me wrong – public education in New Hampshire is often rated as one of the top ten in our country. Still, when looking closely at our New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) data, our students’ performance in fourth, eighth and eleventh grade in the last eight years has been stagnant. And if you look even closer, the area of science our students are performing the lowest in is inquiry. So, in a profession that uses data to make the appropriate adjustments to ensure academic success, we must act on these frozen stats, particularly at the elementary level.
Just as there are three steps I need to take to help my children’s cuts heal, I believe there are also three crucial steps that need to occur for New Hampshire’s stagnant science performance to be remedied:
- Increased science training at the collegiate level
- Increased professional development opportunities for current teachers
- Increased science curriculum made available to teachers
More training at the collegiate level is needed so our student teachers are better prepared to teach science when they begin their career. Educators and school administrators need to find more ways to weave science into their professional development opportunities for the sake of improving science instruction for their students. Educators and administrators need to be creative in finding quality yet affordable curriculum for their classrooms, or diligent and productive in creating their own.
My goal with this incredible opportunity of receiving the Christa McAuliffe Sabbatical is to help colleges and public schools focus even more on the connection they have with each other in providing quality science education to New Hampshire students. By providing seminars and mentoring for college students, various collaborative opportunities for elementary schools, and creating a free, quality ecosystem curriculum, my hope is that this project will be a small yet effective step toward increasing our elementary students’ experiences and successes with science.