Field Hours & Content

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by RSA1984, Apr 5, 2017.

  1. RSA1984

    RSA1984 Rookie

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    Apr 5, 2017

    Hi all,

    I'm halfway done with my teacher preparation program...I have about 1 year left. Over the course of this academic year, I've completed 75 field hours and next fall I will complete my final 30 and finally move into student teaching during the second semester of the 2017-2018 academic year. I have certainly learned a lot by physically seeing various classroom management strategies, differentiated instructional approaches, etc. My question is regarding content area. My content area is in the area of Life Sciences (Biology), and today I was able to sit in on a physical science class. The teacher was discussing acceleration, and I definitely understood much of the content, but how did any of you veteran teachers approach content that perhaps you were a bit "fuzzy" with? What do you do if a student asks you a question pertinent to content and you honestly don't know the answer? It's been honestly 10 years since I took a course in physics/physical science, so I guess I am afraid of perhaps when I begin student teaching, I am going to approach a topic that I am a little weak in. What do you do?
     
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  3. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    Apr 5, 2017

    Every now and then you get something that is completely unexpected (and it's usually a really good question). My strategy (subject is math) is that I will attempt to struggle and reason through the question or problem. I want to model for them the thinking behind solving an "unknown" or "uncertain" problem.

    I also want them to know that the topic really is too big for any one person to have all the answers.(They think I like math because I am good at it or because it comes easy to me.) I like to dispel that notion and demonstrate perseverance.

    However, I make sure that they know in the instances when my answer is uncertain. In that case, I will always let them know that I will follow up and get back with a definitive answer. That's usually simple to do. Never present anything as fact if there is any doubt in your mind. You do not want to lose credibility with your students. They are pretty good at detecting BS.
     
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  4. Bioguru

    Bioguru Companion

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    Apr 5, 2017

    Excellent response by GTB. You can only gain credibility by telling a student "I'm not sure, but I'll look into it and get back to you." I had to say that a lot more early on in my career, but many years later I have to say that less and less. If the lesson is going well, the students are engaged, and it's a great question I don't know the answer to I'll just pull Google up right then and do a quick search. My advice is to always be expanding your knowledge to have an arsenal of quick responses, but never be ashamed to admit you don't know.
     
  5. heatherberm

    heatherberm Cohort

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    Apr 5, 2017

    Let me second (or third) not being afraid to just plainly say, "What a great question! I don't know the answer to that." It happens at least a couple of times a week. If I think it might be a quick answer, I stop, project my computer, and we look for the answer together. (Researching is a skill my students are not strong in so this is always good for them.) If we don't have time at the moment, I write the question on a Post-it and put it on the white board at the front of the room so we remember to come back to it another time or I remember to look it up during planning or before or after school. Like others have already said, it's good for them to see that no one knows everything and that it's important to think, ask good questions, and find the answers. Occasionally they'll even look up a question on their own and come back the next day, wanting to share.
     
  6. RSA1984

    RSA1984 Rookie

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    Apr 5, 2017

    Thank you all for your replies. I guess it's normal to have jitters and I have to understand that I won't know every single facet of biology, genetics, physical science, etc. With respect to students asking questions, I will be sure to take your advice to heart. I'm sure I will have a student who either asks a random question related to the content (ex: "What does the Lewis Dot structure of tungsten look like?") or something that perhaps is "easy" but I may be a bit "rusty" on. For example, I never took a course dedicated to plant biology in college, and I had minimal exposure to it in general bio during my freshman year. Do you ever find yourselves resorting back to the text to either learn material or to refresh yourself? I took the Praxis II in my content area last year, so I know when push comes to shove, I know the material...I guess I am simply nervous about having to teach a topic and I am weak in the particular area.
    Thanks again.
     
  7. heatherberm

    heatherberm Cohort

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    Apr 5, 2017

    When I was teaching 6th grade science, the YouTube channel Crash Course Kids was my best friend. :) My degree was as a 1-6 generalist so I didn't have a very rich science background. There were areas I knew a lot about and areas I didn't know anything about.I was constantly watching and reading, teaching myself things or staying fresh on things. While it can be time-consuming, I think it's one of the fun things about teaching.
     
  8. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    Apr 9, 2017

    I'm a Science teacher but Biology is my weakest subject. I am very upfront about this with my students, that I can teach Biology but if they have any far out questions, I may not be able to answer them. And when that happens, I tell them I do not know the answer but if they google it, they can teach me. They appreciate my honesty and it sends a message that you never stop learning, no matter how old you are.
    Being a teacher doesn't mean you know everything, because sometimes you are teaching out of your speciality, so don't feel bad for not knowing it all. Students won't appreciate you BSing them, they can sniff it from miles away and you lose credibility.
    Sometimes having to teach yourself something so you can teach the students is a good thing, because you know which resources were useful in your learning journey and it helps you explain things to students in a way that they can understand better.
     
    RSA1984 likes this.

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