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First Steps to Teaching Science

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There are a lot of aspects of teaching that are learned best through experience, however many systems and approaches can be shared and can save new science teachers a lot of trouble.  Although I will never consider myself a “master” teacher, I do hope my insights can help you navigate the minefield of teaching science.

It’s already the end of September and you may feel as if you missed some key steps in getting prepared. Below are some first steps I recommend to get your year off to a good start. Ideally they are completed before the year begins, but it’s better late than never!

 b2ap3 thumbnail organized  Get Organized

  Here are some initial ways I get organized:

-  Buy a lesson planning book or use an online calendar that will carry you through an academic year with both a macro and micro viewpoint.

- Access your school's academic calendar and mark holidays, testing days, and other important school events.

- Access the science state standards or other standards that your school uses for curriculum.

- Access practice or old state tests (or other end of year assessments) for your grade level and content area.  If your grade level isn't tested, but something is tested a year or two later, access that one so you can work backwards.

- Familiarize yourself with how to order science materials so you can have materials ready ahead of time.

b2ap3 icon Screen Shot 2015 09 23 at 5.04.21 PM  Yearly Curriculum Template

You may need to collaborate with others and share your yearly overview. Here is a template I use when working with teachers to map out the year. Send me a message on Facebook or Twitter if you'd like me to email you a downloadable excel version of the template!

b2ap3 icon Composition book  Don't Forget Target!

One thing I always do around early August is stop in to a Target, Walmart or any other big school supplier store and take advantage of their ridiculously good back-to-school prices.  I stock up on markers, tape, scissors, colored pencils, pencil sharpeners (especially the quiet, individual ones!), folders, lined paper and composition books.  I buy 20 or so folders and composition books for students who cannot afford them or will not be able to get one soon after the year begins.  Some may argue that I enable them, but I find comfort in knowing I can start ALL students in their composition books by the second week of school!

Other Great Resources

The following books have been go-to resources for me as a teacher and coach and I would highly recommend looking through them before your school year begins:

-  Teach Like A Champion by Doug Lamott

-  All of NSTA's Uncovering Student Ideas in Science books

-  Maia Heyck-Merlin's The Together Teacher

-  NSTA membership and a subscription to the elementary, middle or high school science teacher journal

Also, ask your school to provide resources to purchase these items (especially the NSTA membership).  Schools may also offer to purchase the resource as a library item which you can then borrow.

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Michelle has taught 6th-9th grade science in Texas and New York City for eight years. Following teaching, she became a math/science instructional coach and is in her second year coaching teachers. She currently lives in State College, PA with her husband and daughter. Michelle received a M.Ed. in Science Education from the University of Texas at Austin and loves to immerse herself in science--she worked in the GK12 program and will be taking her second trip to Antarctica to work alongside researchers as a PolarTREC teacher in November of 2015. Michelle's experience as a science teacher and coach has led her to blog about finding ways to help new science teachers navigate the profession.
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