Sunday, February 6, 2011

My experience thus far...

So, my previous post outlined how I got into the program, this is where I am thus far, classwise.

The program started in the Summer of '10, and I remember having the following classes:

-Principles of Teaching:

The Secondary Science cohort doesn't really mingle much with the rest of the people in the Ed program, and Dr W., the head of the Secondary Science program is with us every quarter, teaching some class that is mostly geared towards the Secondary Sciences. He's a very good professor, and is incredibly passionate about science education. This was the first class with him, where we just talked about basic teaching stuff.

-Educational Measurement:

This seemed to be a stats class, geared towards educational applications. It seemed to serve the purpose of getting us to understand test scores and how they actually work. This class wasn't required during this quarter, but I took it, as it is a requirement to graduate. The professor is an active research scientist, which was very refreshing.

-Foundations of Education:

This class was a review of the social history of education, and some of the racism and discrimination that currently goes on today, along with some of the social stuff going on in education today. A lot of attention was given to Geoffrey Canada and similar educational advocates, although the focus was primarily not on Pacific Northwest schools, something I found a little frustrating. Still, we read a lot of good books about some of the really innovative things going on in Education today.

-Child Abuse:

This was a seminar where we learned two things: How to make a CPS call, and that we shouldn't sleep with our students. Having worked with CPS before, and knowing that sleeping with students is a bad idea, I didn't learn too much, but it was still a fun class.

-Secondary Students with Disability:

This class was a general review of the services that students with special needs can receive, and how that fits in with teachers. It was pretty informative, as there are more and more kids with special needs in classrooms these days.


After every quarter I have a Portfolio meeting with Dr W. He looks at my portfolio and tells me what I need to work on. This time around, I did fine.

In Fall '10, I had, as follows:

-Educational Research:

Taught by the Prof who taught the Measurement class, this class consisted of reviewing educational research and learning how to make sense of it, as well as some basic information on how to actually do research. Sadly, the prof had a family emergency, followed by a snowstorm, so class was canceled quite a bit, and I didn't learn nearly as much as I would have liked, but she made do, and the lectures we did have were crammed full of good information.

-Science Methods 1:

Dr. W had us actually hanging out in a High School science classroom for this class, and we learned how to demo various labs, what the gist of inquiry was, and how to put together solid inquiry based lesson plans. I'm much more of a citizen science/STS guy, so while I enjoyed the class, I wanted more real world connections.

-Multicultural Education:

This class seemed to be an attempt to give us an intro to the concept of multiculturalism, but the end result was mixed. Part of this has to do with the fact that most of our cohort is white middle class types, who don't take ideas such as white privilege very well. Still, I actually learned a lot, which was good.

-Literacy in Secondary Schools:

A class on the importance of teaching literacy in public schools, and the importance of direct instruction. This class seemed to conflict a lot with the Inquiry view we were learning in the Science methods class, which was rather entertaining.


This was my second portfolio meeting, where they evaluated what I had put in my portfolio from the previous quarter. I ended up having a panic attack, as my grandpa had just been hospitalized (and has since died), and I was still reeling from the shock. I bombed the meeting, but I will have a second chance next Portfolio meeting.

I'm currently in Winter quarter, taking the following courses:

-Practicum (Teacher Observation):

I've been placed in a rural middle school with an amazing teacher. I go there twice a week, and occasionally teach lessons, as well as get to know the kids. It's an amazing experience, and I have already logged the 50 hours needed, although I will continue to go. My main frustrations stem from the long drive and the lack of sleep, but caffeine has proved an able assistant.

-Practicum seminar:

This is just a basic reflective seminar where we talk about how our things are going in our placements.

-Science Methods 2

Another Dr. W class, this time talking about science and society, which is the other half of the Inquiry Science equation. Being someone who feels that science is only relevant through the lens of its effects on society, I REALLY like this class.

-Classroom Management

A class on how to deal with classes of disruptive kids. It really gets into the meat and potatoes of classroom management, which I appreciate.

-Culture of Secondary Schools

Dr. W teaches this class as well, and it is an anthropological view of schools. It's a lot of fun, playing anthropologist and doing various observations.

And that's where I am. The next quarter, I am student teaching full time, and then the quarter after that I will have a math teaching class and some educational theory class, followed by two 1 credit portfolio classes. After that, hello MEd.

A note on my cohort, we are about 19 students, ranging from age 21 to age 50something, with backgrounds from fresh graduate to seasoned geologist. After three quarters together, we're pretty tight knit, which is good, as my social life has taken a pretty massive hit from the all the schoolwork.

Anyway, hope this brief review of the classes I've had helps clarify what a secondary science education program looks like. I don't know if this setup is typical for programs like this, but thus far I think it's been doing a fairly good job at preparing me for the classroom. One area I haven't been touching on is the personal toll, as that has been great. This program has changed me for the better, but it has also taken a tremendous emotional toll on me during certain points. However, I think that is the nature of a crucible, and this program has been very intense, and for something so concentrated, I think it needs to be.


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