On Being a Science Teacher During Testing Season: A Rant

ImageI had a meltdown today.  I didn’t mean to do it, I’m just frustrated right now.  About this time, every single year, our administrator panics about state testing and has us “analyze” the data to determine which kids can help get our number ups. (she actually said that one year, I almost got up and left the room)

That time of year has arrived, right on schedule, with 37 school days until the first round of testing looming ahead of us.  The kids, apparently, don’t know how to write. We have to teach them how to write. We have 37 school days to make this happen. Ok.

I’m a science teacher.  I am fiercely passionate about students being scientifically literate.  This doesn’t mean kids have to have epiphanies and want to be scientists after leaving my class, but they need to be able to, after leaving my class, watch the news, listen to the dribble about the science flavor of the week that’s being spewed and create an informed opinion about what it is they’re just be feed.  I recognize that being able to write is important, but being able to think is, for me at least, trumps being able to baffle the bullshitters with your 5 line paragraph.

So, I have been tasked with teaching my students, during science time, to write responses to constructed topic questions.  After 3 different people attempted to explain to me what that meant (assuming, naturally, I had no idea what that meant, after all, I’m not a LA teacher, and therefore apparently an idiot), I opened my teacher’s edition, read a prompt in the lesson I’ll be teaching next week and looked at the group of gurus.

“That’s a great question! That’s EXACTLY what we want you to have them write about”.

0_o

I smiled, said ok, got up (where ya going Mrs. Stone!) and walked out the room.

I was so frustrated that I locked the door of my classroom and grinned at the 2 coworkers looking at me rearrange the tables through the door window.  There were things going on in my head that I simply could not articulate without being reprimanded, so I didn’t let them in.  They stood there and tapped for about 3 minutes.. 2 minutes and 45 seconds longer than they should have bothered.

I will say these things now.  Pay attention people.

Reading and writing are fundamental skills that every student should master.  I respect that, the only problem with reading and writing from the point of view of your average administrator (who, in my experience, used to be a reading or writing teacher in a former life) is that , no one is any good at teaching reading or writing BUT the reading and/or writing teacher.  For some reason, dear administrators, you seem to truly believe that the $70 books our kids drag to class daily have no reading or writing assignments in them because they aren’t reading or writing books.  I need to understand why you think that.

My students write; the common core for middle school requires it, our state standards for science insist upon it.  Have you read the common core standards?  You do realize that science has state standards, right?  My students respond articulately to discussion questions and we are going to start blogging soon.

We read our basal text, articles, books, and all sorts of things.  We analyze what we’ve read, considered alternatives to the solutions presented in these readings.  We watch videos and think through thoughts on what we’ve seen.  We deconstruct questions and reconstruct thoughts.  WE ARE WRITERS and the writing teacher loves what we do.  Why don’t you?

I’ll be “teaching” science students how to write for the next 37 school days. I’ll find science stuff to write about, but it just won’t be the same because, well, it will fell like writing class to me, instead of science class. By the way, the social studies teacher feels the same way, except he didn’t meltdown like I did.  He said its because his 2 years of teaching hasn’t worn him out yet. He’s right, 10 years for me; I am truly done.

I want to be a science teacher. Please find a way to make that happen next year for me, please?

Ok. thanks. Man, June, come on… COME ON!!!

I’m finished ranting.  Thank you for reading.

2 Replies to “On Being a Science Teacher During Testing Season: A Rant”

  1. Oh, I’m sorry…I was there three years ago with two major English tests in the month of March. The problem is with the system that throws both the students and the teachers under the bus.

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  2. yeah, I’m ok now, I just wish science was given the same about of respect as reading and math… kids would excel at both if subjects like science and social studies where integrated into the lessons.

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