Accidental Scientist

I was never suppose to be a scientist, a writer, a poet, a journalist, maybe even a teacher but never a scientist. And yet I find myself in a new position professionally. I am a Science Resource teacher at an Elementary School. I am exclusively teaching children science and supporting classroom teachers in their science teaching.

How did this happen?

A friend and colleague pointed out a necklace she was wearing. It was a gift from her husband. She seemed surprised that me of all people had not noticed it and commented. She explains that it is a model of the solar system created through photos taken by astronauts of the planets from space. Very cool, I agree. And then I ponder all that I don’t know about our world and that people are expecting me to know things, scientific things.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. What does it mean to be a scientist? What does it mean to teach science to young children?

Children are born scientists. They come into this world observing, investigating and experimenting as they try to make meaning of their world. And then they go to school. We start teaching them. We tell them to sit and listen while we explain things. And then we tell them to remember what we just told them and what we just explained. Later we ask them to show us what they learned. Where does the meaning making happen? Is the child making meaning? Is simply remembering learning?

In my new role I am a child again. I am trying to figure out the world and as I make meaning I add the layer of “teacher of science.” How do I facilitate meaning making in the classroom? How do I give kids the experiences and opportunities to make their own meaning? I am muddling through.

I am returning to my roots as a writer. Everything I write is my attempt to make some meaning of this world. Exploring my role as teacher of science I am looking at that meaning making through another lens.

So I am giving myself permission to make this blog a bit messy. Because I think I need some messy writing to help me make sense of my new world.

I can say that so far I have discovered that children are the best teachers. I am trying to pay close attention to what they say, what they do and what they are thinking. I am trying to do less explaining. It can be an uncertain place to be as an adult and a teacher. But in the past when I have held my breath and pushed past that discomfort the children have never let me down.