Content knowledge

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by JoanPD, Feb 8, 2016.

  1. JoanPD

    JoanPD Rookie

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    Feb 8, 2016

    I'm in my student teaching semester. I like the teacher I'm with, and am really enjoying the school.

    I passed the praxis, with a decent score, and I have good grades in all my science classes. I though I knew the content well, but the more classrooms I'm in, and the more I am observing before evening starting to take over, it feels like I don't know what I need to know when it comes to the content in science. I'm trying to keep up with the three areas.

    What I'm trying to figure out is what I seem to not know this stuff, when it seems like I should based on my praxis score and my transcripts. Is there any advice you can give on this issue?
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 8, 2016

    I think that it's less important that you figure out why you don't know this stuff than that you figure out this stuff. Time to start learning!
     
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  4. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Feb 8, 2016

    I believe we all start that way. The truth is we learn way less in college than either A) the college or B) society would want us to believe. You'll pick it up and be fine. I've learned waaay more world history since I've started teaching than I ever did in school. Like Caesar said - go learn. Watch documentaries, read books, follow tags on Twitter, etc. to stay up on your subject.
     
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  5. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Feb 8, 2016

    A good teacher knows how to admit to not knowing something, as well as knowing how to efficiently learn material to fill those gaps. I learn plenty as I go, even in my "wheelhouse" subject of math (teaching elementary), and try to teach those same learning skills to the students of mine. You know your weaknesses - perfect first step. Now just make sure that you're learning whenever you feel as though you're missing something, so that the next time you teach it, or next time you interact with the student asking the question, you'll be an expert!
     
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  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Feb 8, 2016

    There is nothing quite like teaching to show one what one doesn't know.
     
  7. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    I was amazed at how little history I knew when I began teaching history :p My degrees had all been in American history and my first year, I was given all World to teach. I spent my first year learning a topic in order to TEACH it the next day. The next year, I was given a PSYCHOLOGY class, which I knew even less about. My classes get switched almost every year and while there are subjects that I know back and forth now, there are others that I would have to do some major learning.

    My personal opinion is that if you can TEACH, you can teach anything. Teaching is the tricky part. The content you can learn as you go; just stay ahead of the students.
     
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  8. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Feb 8, 2016

    The positive in all of this is that you recognize there is an issue. Now you have to learn the content.

    College will never teach you everything you need to know for any profession. There is always more to learn or to learn in more detail. Praxis isn't an all-inclusive test but a general test even in specific subjects. There is still more to know.

    You haven't shared examples of what you don't know. Are you completely missing major concepts of the subject or is the detail you are lacking?
     
  9. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I know many teachers who would not be able to teach physics or higher level math. I also know many teachers who wouldn't be able to teach English. They are great teachers in their content area, but would never be able to acquire the skills necessary to teach other subjects. You can't learn physics as you go and stay ahead of the students and teach it well. You might be able to run a class, but you won't be teaching the content.
     
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  10. adeeb

    adeeb Rookie

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    Feb 8, 2016

    Maybe this is obvious or more common than I thought, but it seems odd to me that they would assign a History major to teach Psychology since it is out of your realm (unless you studied some Psychology as well). Hopefully it was a Psychology 101 course.
     
  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 8, 2016

    Social Studies as an umbrella topic covers History, Psychology, and several other courses as well.
     
  12. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Just like Caesar said, if you're covered to teach Social Studies, that covers a multitude of classes, tons of which someone may not have education in. I've never taken classes in Ancient history, but I could be given that on a moment's notice. Psychology (regular or AP), sociology, Ancient History, there are tons of classes that a teacher wouldn't have taken in college that we could be given at any moment. They'll throw you a little training if you're given AP, but the majority you have to learn as you go.
     
  13. Puppet Debris

    Puppet Debris Rookie

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    Feb 9, 2016

    I've heard this many times - even from graduates of prestigious institutions. But for me, to be honest, when I taught what I was cut out to teach, I feel like I knew the content from my high school days. I just taught the same thing in pretty much the same way. I guess for me, college was just a waste of time and money and life.
     
  14. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Feb 18, 2016

    I started the thread with the free links as a continuation of my innate and constant curiosity about what is going on in my content area. Then, because of the population I work with, I found other bread crumbs and followed and explored those. Since I am K-12 Science, MS ELA and SS, Elementary K-6, as well as ESL and TOSD, I find that there is SO MUCH that interests me, and I am fond of following random thoughts and questions that help me grow in my content areas. Your grades and Praxis scores indicate to the state that you have enough knowledge to become a new teacher. However, to be an exceptional teacher, we all need to continue to grow, seek new horizons, reflect on how new knowledge, concepts, and technologies can make us better teachers, able to stimulate our students to grow and find paths we may not have considered yet.

    I firmly believe that on the day that I no longer am curious about new things, on the day that I am no longer amazed with how content areas overlap and intertwine, or on the day that learning has become a chore instead of an adventure, well, that will be my last day as a teacher. I don't think I could fake my enthusiasm or ask students to be engaged when I was clearly bored. Do I see this in my future? No, but I could be wrong. The best teachers I have observed and admired are always searching for "MORE." If you become content with good enough, in truth, you will be falling behind instead of growing in your profession.

    That you are reflecting on these things now bodes well for you. I had a wonderful workshop that showed how we grow even as we incorporate new research, technologies, and deeper understanding. I was thrilled to share story time with Dr. Joan Wink as she read "Blueberries" to us. She is a gifted ESL professor with great understanding of how we 'fit' into education, and the differences we can make for "blueberries" of all sizes and shapes. I spent the trip home trying to get the quote from Galaxy Quest out of my head, but it would not budge. I think all of the presenters would understand and approve. Their messages were different in details, yet contained the same underlying message. Different routes and maps to achieve the desired results, and it all happens by keeping the course, using all the tools we can find, and loving what we do. “Never give up . . . and never surrender." (IMBd, 1999)

    Just in case you have never read "Blueberries", I will share the link. The author has provided permission to share and reprint the story freely. I hope you enjoy, and also hope you appreciate the curiosity that lives within you. May it be a part of what helps you grow into a gifted teacher.

    http://www.jamievollmer.com/pdf/blueberry-story.pdf
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2016
  15. heatherberm

    heatherberm Cohort

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    Feb 18, 2016

    Yes, to pretty much everything everyone has said. There will always be more to learn. My degree was a 1-6 generalist so I was a little hesitant when I got hired to teach 6th grade science because I'd never concentrated in just one subject before. But learning the content (some of which I was familiar with, some of which has changed a LOT since I was learning it as a student) over the course of the year, as tough as it's been sometimes, has been one of the fun parts of the year. Chances are, your students won't notice that you're often learning on the fly. A few kids have asked me, "How do you KNOW all this stuff?" And if they do, well, that's part of learning/education. They also often ask me stuff that I don't know and I just tell them, "I don't know, let's find out." Even if I did know a ton, I'd still recommend reading and watching whatever you can because it keeps it fresh and exciting and your kids will definitely notice if you're excited about what you're teaching or not.

    Since you specifically mentioned science, I cannot recommend this Science Crash Course for Kids channel on YouTube enough. It breaks down really big questions pretty directly and clearly, enough at least for most 6th grade lessons. I always watch any videos about the upcoming unit before I start teaching it. My kids really like them too. https://www.youtube.com/user/crashcoursekids

    ETA: I just noticed that this is in the Secondary Education forum so you might need more advanced information but the general gist of always continuing to read and watch new things still applies. Also, Billy Nye the Science Guy is on Netflix streaming now. Always a fun way to up your science game. :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2016
  16. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Feb 18, 2016

    Last night, I had to research the history of patriarchy - how it came to be - as well as the word "herb" and why the h is silent. Perfect example of how we never know everything- but can set a great example to our students (even fourth graders, as my students are!) by showing what great learners do when they don't know something (which is more often than not, many times!)
     
  17. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Feb 19, 2016

    I shocked a principal once by stating that my job is to teach students how to learn and enjoy the process, not to just learn "facts" that may be true today, but proved wrong tomorrow. In science, we only have to look at texts from the last forty years to show that this is a fact, not an off the wall supposition. I want my students to realize that science, specifically, is a living breathing content area that is still evolving, changing, often because those of us who study it are playing catch up. I know that this same process of evolution and growth will be found in all content areas, so if you really want to be a great teacher, you must resign yourself, or rejoice in the fact that constant interest and study will lead to deeper understandings while also raising intriguing questions about all that we don't know.

    To the OP - you will do well as long as you know growth is required to excel.
     
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