This past week has been a flurry of activity that did not involve interacting with a computer for several hours a day. Don’t get me wrong – I am THOROUGHLY enjoying creating a rocky shore curriculum, but it is also very exciting to get back into the classroom and work toward improving science instruction and performance at the elementary level.
I recently had the privilege of collaborating with Franklin Pierce University’s professors and students. Professor Doug Gilroy asked me to speak to his Scientific Inquiry and Teaching Methods class, and Dr. Jacqueline Kelleher requested that I talk with the university’s Education Club. I also had the wonderful opportunity to discuss science and education with the Education Division Chair, Dr. Alana Mosley.
Last Thursday Professor Gilroy’s class focused on learning about what to expect when teaching science at the elementary level. We covered science instruction, curriculum, professional development and inquiry-based learning. We also looked at data from surveys like the one below that indicate an overwhelming lack of preparedness elementary teachers believe they possess in terms of teaching science at the elementary level. This led to positive conversation on what we can do to change that educational shortcoming.
Yesterday Professor Gilroy’s class conversed about how to create and plan instruction that promotes engagement and inquiry. We reviewed different strategies that invoke inquiry, and we also discussed the biggest challenges educators face when attempting to engage their students. I shared with students my instructional planning method and classroom management fundamentals which can be found on the homepage of this website.
I also had the privilege of meeting with FPU’s Education Club last night. This was a potential lecture that turned into a question and answer session, and I appreciated this time immensely. Students were able to ask me any question they wanted regarding education and I attempted to answer them as comprehensively and honestly as possible, because, I believe, collaboration between school districts and postsecondary schools needs to increase and improve in order to comprehensively prepare new teachers to face the many challenges educators encounter today.
The Education Club asked very thoughtful, challenging and detailed questions on topics ranging from instructing students with diverse learning needs to IEP meetings to collaborating with parents to teacher evaluation processes and performance-based pay. I am hoping I provided adequate answers that will assist their work now as student teachers and beyond into their teaching careers.
One last aspect that needs attention regarding this collaboration with Franklin Pierce University: yesterday morning I was writing back and forth with the Department of Education and a member of the Subcommittee of the Professional Standards Board, Casey Sylvain, sixth grade teacher at Grantham Village School. We are working on creating new elementary education science certification standards for New Hampshire educators in efforts to better prepare new teachers and to help guide future science professional development for current elementary educators.
When I explained to the new Director of Science Education, Barbara Hopkins, that I was not going to be able to physically attend the meeting in Concord because I would be working with Franklin Pierce University I discovered an incredible connection: Barbara Hopkins’ alma mater (Class of 1977) is Franklin Pierce University. Also, Barbara Hopkins was the 1998 Christa McAuliffe Sabbatical recipient for her project on the development of a scientific instrument sharing system.
How cool is that?!