Friday, April 20, 2012

Science Saturday ~ What Teaching Science This Year Has Taught Me

If you've read my blog for very long, you know that I have always been a Math teacher - until this year.

This year, 2 things changed.

Several teams in my school were made 4-member teams {due to budget cuts}, where we all teach Social Studies 1 period a day.

A 7th grade Science teacher moved to teach at the high school and I was asked to take her place.

Since I'm certified to teach all content areas, I could take her place for Science and teach Social Studies on a 4-member major strings to pull or certification tests to take.

So, overnight, I became a Science and Social Studies teacher!

In fact, I actually changed my blog name in December to better reflect me new roles.

I teach 4 Science classes and 1 Social Studies class.

As a result, Michelle's Math in the Middle became Making It As A Middle School Teacher!

Throughout this school year, I have learned many things while being a Science {and Social Studies} teacher.  Some about science, some about being a teacher, and some about life in general.

I thought I'd share some of those things with you today.

1.  As a self-admitted Math nerd, I guess I've always been a Math snob as well...meaning Math was the most important subject of all!  Well, this year has really opened my eyes and made me re-think that.  I truly feel that all subjects need to mesh together and I have found so many ways to incorporate and overlap ideas from one content into the next!  I could say that photosynthesis and cellular respiration were like inverse operations in Math because 7th Graders know about inverse operations.  The symmetry lesson in Science could refer to the symmetry lessons in Math.  The biomes in Science were also part of the Social Studies content when we learned about Africa.  And on and on it could go!

2.  I'm a 'Math is everywhere' kind of gal.  This year I've led my students to see that Science is also all around us...and in us!  We can't go anywhere or do anything without so much Science happening that it's mind-boggling.  The same goes for Social Studies as well.  When the map of Africa changes from one year to the next because of South Sudan becoming its own nation apart from Sudan, you can't get much more current and timely than that.  When Osama bin Laden is a card on my Word Wall, that's pretty real-life to me!

3.  It's OK to step outside your teacher comfort zone and grow because of it!  My Science concentration in college was Geology...not Biology, which I last had about 20 years ago.  I really had to approach my lessons and my teaching from a whole new perspective and I could relate much better to my students when they were struggling with a concept {because I might have had the same struggle the night before myself}.

4.  Admitting you don't have the answer to that right now does not mean you're a bad teacher!  Science is such a broad and varied field that continually changes.  I don't know of anyone who could master all of it in their lifetime.  Some questions my students have asked me were tough!  I explained about the broad nature of Science and that there are so many specialties, etc....  I told them there were areas of Science I had not studied.  But I also told them I would find the answer, while they went home and did a little research as well, and we would discuss it the next day.  This really opened up some great lines of communication with my students!

5.  Perfection is not a necessity!  Wow...that was even painful to type!  Coming from a diagnosed OCD needs-to-be-perfect person, that was a biggie.  I couldn't be perfect everyday, but I gave 100%, which is all I ever ask of my students.  Why should I ask more of myself?

6.  Showing a little vulnerability is not the end of the world!  Being the teacher that needed to ask fellow Science teachers for help, instead of being the teacher that fellow Math teachers often came to, took some getting accustomed to.  In the end, I think it deepened the relationship and trust between my two 7th Grade Science peeps and me!

7.  I laughed...a lot!  I think I've laughed more with my students this year than in the last few years combined!  Maybe it was because I didn't always know what I was doing {did I just say that out loud}, maybe it was because Science is fun to teach, maybe it was because more students seem to like Science better  than Math...I don't really know.  I do know that laughter helped me make it through the year and feel pretty successful about it!

8.  I learned to relax!  In my district, it's all about the Math scores, Math scores, Math you can imagine the stress that leads to year after year!  Science {hmmmm} not so much.  This year, I felt like I could just relax and teach.  I also made a promise to myself that when I go back to Math {yes, back to Math} next year, no matter how often I hear about scores or how crazy Common Core gets, I WILL allow myself to relax and teach...and enjoy it!

Whew...that felt pretty good!  While I am excited about moving back to my passion, Math, next year, I will miss Science.  Lucky for me, I still get to teach Social Studies though!  o_O

I hope you've enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it.  I also hope you will take some time to reflect on your school year, whether it was great or not.  You might just find a hidden gem or two that you hadn't expected!

Enjoy :)

Making It {and smiling},

5-Star Blogger

I am PROUD to display my new badge!
{This completes the 5-Star Blogger Challenge from The Organized Classroom Blog.  If you are a blogger and haven't checked out Charity's challenge and link party, head on over there now.}


  1. Great post! Definitely a 5-Star Blogger! Thanks for linking up!

    The Organized Classroom Blog

    1. Thanks Charity! It was good to really think more about my blog posts.


  2. Congrats on making the switch work for you! Not everyone takes change in stride the way you have, even though it's essential to teaching.
    I particularly like #4 in your list. I love when students ask me something I don't know because that means they are thinking above regular old 5th grade science material, which is great! You can always find out the answers together!

    The Science Penguin

    1. Thank you!

      You are so right about students thinking above and beyond...really keeps you on your toes.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave such a great comment. :)


  3. You are my new go to blog. I am a second career teacher. My first career was in architecture, I have been married for 21 years and thought I would be a math teacher but have taught 1st for the last couple of years. Next year I am moving to 6-8th science! I think you are going to be a great resource for me. I am a little overwhelmed but excited too.

    First (middle) ClassTeacher

    1. How sweet!

      What a big change you are in for! MS is very fun, but oh so different! I'm sure you'll do fabulous!

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  4. I just adore this post! I taught 6th grade Math and Science this year... you are completely right about learning to relax and teach. This is the first year I have been able to do just that. What you put down in words, is exactly what I felt throughout this year. Thanks!!!

  5. I really love your blog! I am a science teacher (physics), and next year I have to teach biology! the last time I studied biology was back in high school! Woe is me! I also love math - math IS everywhere! So why did the Gods smile down upon me and decide I should teach biology? I have no idea. I guess that is what we need to do - remain flexible and roll with the punches. I teach high school at the moment, and perhaps I am one of those few teacher who'd rather teach middle school. I just feel they need me there. Thanks so much for your blog, and for letting me vent (just a little!).

  6. I really enjoyed this blog post! I am currently working on my Masters' in Middle School education. My background is business, so all of this is very new to me. One of the classes I am currently taking is Teaching Science and Social Studies. Your blog post could have been taken straight from a recent lecture my professor gave on blending subjects together.

  7. I'm also outside my teacher comfort zone! So much so that I now write a science blog for kids ( which now has a link on the NSTA website)

    A bit crazy you might think for a non specialist science teacher!

    However I always check out my facts and read widely. So far I have had no complaints! Being passionate and interested in something is what matters!

    You can check out my website here at