So I am sitting in the lobby of the Westin – holy cow, this is a nice hotel! Apparently this is where all the New Teachers Academy cadets are shacked up… Gotta remember to apply for that for next year! I sure wouldn’t mind hitting up Chicago in 2015.
Anyhoo, the session I have been attending is an introduction to the NGSS standards. I’ve been sitting at a table all morning with three people from Texas, one who spent a few years teaching in Alaska, and another guy who was born in my own home town – Erie, PA! He currently lives in Maine, but still – small world, huh! It has been pretty cool connecting with these teachers. You can see below how well we hit it off:
But seriously now, it was cool to talk about these teachers’ experiences teaching in their very different environment. Apparently in at least some parts of Alaska, many locals have trouble accepting “outsiders.” That would be a serious challenge toward building the relationships so important to effective classroom management. On the other hand, I definitely heard some teachers discussing challenges I have in my own class – students being so worried about grades, they lose sight of the experiences and learning; the importance of extracurriculars; pressure from parents, etc. As a result of these pressures, the teachers mentioned, their students were often afraid to try and fail – which is a problem when incorporating the engineering aspects of the NGSS. I have found my fifth and sixth graders don’t yet have that type of response to engineering activities, but at the same time, I can understand how high school students might worry about grades for projects that don’t quite work, or about peers looking down on designs that aren’t quite right. Unfortunately, the failures are part of the learning process (and really scientific methodology all together), and students are missing out on this experience…
Anyway, lunch is over – more on that later!