Content knowledge woes

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Camel13, Oct 22, 2017.

  1. Camel13

    Camel13 Companion

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    Oct 22, 2017

    I am a first year teacher in a small rural school. I am teaching 6-12th science, and my degree is in secondary level integrated science which I obtained three years previous. While prepping for six separate grades is challenging, I am loving every minute and challenge. Recently, I have come up against some embarrassing moments in my Chemistry class, and sometimes my 9th grade Physical Science class in which I flub a problem I am trying to show them, create an erroneous problem in a worksheet, or cannot balance the formula myself that I assigned them in a quiz! Ideally, I would work through any problem I assign ahead of time, but honestly, I am working nonstop save for sleeping in creating lessons, grading, etc. I simply have no additional time.

    Please someone tell me it is normal to flub so much at the beginning, and that students will not resent me for it! I feel the worst in front of my Junior and Senior students who desperately need my class to graduate, and while I might have obtained an A on all my college courses, most of them are five years or more in the past, and I am woefully out of practice! I cannot wait until summer so I can bone up on knowledge again!
     
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  3. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Oct 22, 2017

    I am always in shock when I hear of teachers teaching that many different courses (especially their first year!), and it makes me so glad for our strong union.

    I do think content knowledge is extremely important, but I also recognize the challenging position you are in being in a small rural school with so many different courses. I do not think students will resent you for it as long as you are honest with them, and reasonable in your expectations (i.e. if you put on an equation that you can't balance, obviously they shouldn't be penalized if they can't do it!) I think you will improve over the years if you are working as hard as you mention.
     
  4. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    Oct 23, 2017

    It's probably a good thing if they see their teacher not get it right once in a while and feel no shame in saying I don't know how to do it. There shouldn't be any shame in getting things wrong as a student because that's such a powerful way to learn. You can turn the situation into a positive one. E.g. If you can't balance an equation on the spot, be honest and tell them. Then go through the steps, your thought process, when you get stuck on such a problem and they can learn from you. The metacognition is really powerful.
     
  5. FrankFromFranklin

    FrankFromFranklin Rookie

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    Oct 23, 2017

    teaching history there is no way to possibly know everything. students stump me with questions sometimes. I think it is good for students to see that you don't know everything. And I will always make a comment about not knowing everything. if they stump me I will tell them I am not sure then I will look it up while we are talking about it. I learn something, student learns something, everyone wins!
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Oct 23, 2017

    I understand your unique position, but I also think that you owe it to your students to be able to teach them what they are supposed to be learning. A mistake here or there is not a big deal and can even be a good lesson for students about learning from mistakes and all that. On the other hand, being unable to solve problems that you've given in a quiz is sort of a big deal. I know it will probably be challenging to find the time, but I really think you're going to have to sit down with each lesson before you deliver it and make sure that you can do exactly what you're expecting kids to be able to do.
     
  7. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

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    Oct 23, 2017

    OP, would you be interested in a high-quality prepackaged chem curriculum at an extremely affordable price? Actually, you can get the powerpoints and worksheets for free, but it'll be $5 if you want the lecture guides and answer keys. It's that cheap because it was developed with grant money. http://www.teachnlearnchem.com
     
  8. tchr4vr

    tchr4vr Companion

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    Oct 23, 2017

    Union state? Union states do not protect you from having multiple subjects. My first teaching job in NYC public schools was six preps - music appreciation/speech/drama/English 10/English 12 & ESL. I was only certified to teach English and Theatre. I had no books or curriculum. I asked my union rep about it, and her answer was "If you signed the contract, you're stuck." Of course, my contract said nothing about what I would teach.

    As to the OP, just prepare, prepare and prepare. Be prepared for questions, admit what you don't know, and you'll be better next year.
     
  9. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Oct 23, 2017

    One suggestion I always make... towards the beginning of the year, make a couple blatantly obvious mistakes on the board, and let students correct you. When they do, congratulate them because they didn't let you trick them. They'll spend the rest of the year looking for your board mistakes, and they'll think it's intentional when they see one.
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Oct 23, 2017

    I'm also in a state with a pseudo-union ("association"). It's not strong, but it's something. I've taught as many as 5 preps before. It's just the nature of the beast sometimes, depending on where and what you teach. If you're at a small school, you may have to wear many hats. If you teach something a little less common, you should expect to teach all levels of it, as in OP's case. It's very common for foreign language teachers to teach levels 1, 2, 3, 4, and/or AP. While it may seem like French 2 and French 3 are similar so planning should be easy, they're about as similar as pre-Algebra and Calculus...meaning they're not really all that similar.
     
    ms.irene and CherryOak like this.
  11. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Oct 24, 2017

    Maybe it's just my district. Our contract only allows up to 2 preps, or in unique situations, if we sign off on it, up to 3 preps. This year I only have one. I guess it has to do with the specific district as opposed to the state, but the union in my district wouldn't have that.
     
  12. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Oct 24, 2017

    This isn’t a union issue, it’s a population issue. They don’t have a need for additional teachers clearly. Would you rather they hired 2 part time teachers instead?
     
  13. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Oct 25, 2017

    I think it's normal, but at the same time, we have to take responsibility and do whatever we can to prevent it. My first year teaching, I had six different preps, including two that I was not certified to teach (private school, wheee!). I was literally reading the chapters in the US History text the night before and learning some things right along with my students. I am sure I learned more about Religion that year than my students did, as well...It is not ideal, but it is sometimes the reality. You might need to make it a priority to prepare yourself before a lesson rather than spending time on creating "fun" lessons or spending a ton of time grading for now.
     
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