When teaching science is my super power in a world rejecting superheroes
Are simple topics easy to interchange? Perhaps, if I consider what science is and what is not, then I couldn’t say that science is a fantastic choice to write about it.
In its undivided wholeness, science itself is complicated. With so many outlets and ramifications of studies, there is so much to know. It is impossible to know it all.
But perhaps some people would love to know all about science. I, however, rather teach science. For so many years dealing with beakers, flasks, and the immense deadlines of samples to test, I wanted to do something meaningful with science.
I never expected a Nobel Prize or an honorary award for the latest discovery to save humanity. I did want to change lives by just teaching. In this simple form, teaching is a career like no other.
From science to education
Although science is a collaboration between scientists and brilliant people to solve a problem, education is a group effort to explore the possibilities to instruct and enlighten. I often wondered what happened to the desire for some teachers to teach but slowly dwindled into thin air.
It is not easy to see students’ motivation to be in school and learn. The desire of teaching comes with the understanding that students come from different walks of lives.
It is not a simple choice to have a cookie-cutter method for teaching when more than half the class is unable to perform at grade level. Some teachers gave up on the notion that education is changing how we see the world.
What happened to the superpower mentality I proposed in college to save the world one lesson at a time?
I think it slowly dissipated into the red tape of education policy and complaining parents. The disregard for the teaching profession is all too vivid when I started to see how much students lack the remote desire even to open a book.
They wish to turn on their cell phones more than turning a page to read.
A leap of faith
But with all the process of teaching and motivation to change lives, was I able to do it? Could my superpower of instruction go anywhere?
Yes, I was able to convince myself that although I was a nerd teacher, I’m able to reach some students interested in science. There were the enthusiastic students that wanted to boost their grade point average and those that were clinging to pass with a decent grade.
But I took a leap of faith for those students on the border of failing. They weren’t necessarily failing science but losing on life.
My superpower of teaching kicked in. I saw too many students throwing their lives and not be aware of the future. Too many students walked through the door of my science classroom in hopes to just get this over.
Every year, I was hoping to use my teaching superpower to make a small, but maybe a significant difference in that one student. It is not every day you hope to see change.
Perhaps, I was like every other teacher: overworked, overcrowded, and over my head.
The need to see a small change is not easy. However, the expectations of teaching slowly begin to shrink.
Evidently, preparing students to achieve high test performance scores or better achievement scores was more important. What is left from education and pedagogy if my duty is just to manufacture high-performance scores?
As a scientist for so many years, I collected and analyzed data. My primary job as a scientist was to evaluate that evidence and determine whether it was valid or not.
How could I explain to a student or parent when performance data was not at grade level? What is to perform at grade level anyway?
I saw so many achievement tests as the holy grail of what to expect from students. But what about students with special learning needs, learning disabilities, foreign language, English language learners, medical needs, physical needs, and so much more.
Do these tests put every student under the same umbrella? I hate to admit it. But achievement tests do exactly that. It inserts the bar that only certain students can achieve.
Teaching is a profession unlikely any other. Perhaps, it compares to a public servant.
But very few people see it as such. I see it as a career to change lives. Because you never know when someone may need my teaching superpowers.
Until I hang my superpower cape, there is no child left behind.