NGSS: Replacing “Have To” with “Get To”
Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
by Anna Van Dordrecht
The following article was originally posted on March 6, 2015 by the Sonoma County Office of Education in their Exploring NGSS blog. It is republished here with permission from the author.
Now that we’re solidly into March, it’s a good time to take stock of New Year’s resolutions. The hype of January has long since worn off, so any resolutions that are still being kept are clearly important and have a much higher chance of succeeding than they did on January 2.
My resolution this year was—and still is—to examine how often I say “I have to” and, when possible, replace that statement with “I get to.” Although this may sound simple, I admit that I’ve failed on a number of occasions. I’ve been surprised at how hard it’s been to remember and amazed at what a big difference it makes in my outlook when I do.
IT ALL BEGINS WITH FROZEN YOGURT
The impetus for this resolution lies in an interaction with my students. It was a busy morning and I was very hungry, so at break I dashed to the refrigerator and grabbed a yogurt. I didn’t have time to open it until class began and to my great dismay I saw that it had frozen. I complained loudly, “Oh no! My yogurt froze. I hate when that happens.”
One of the students helpfully piped in, “Ms. Van, that’s a first-world problem.” Although not the comfort I was looking for in the moment, this was very true. For the most part, I am very privileged to have the option of yogurt or some other snack at any time I’d like it. After this encounter, I started thinking about other areas where I have a skewed perception of the demands and “trials” placed on me. Thus was born my resolution.
Since my resolution began in the classroom, much of what I’ve focused on has been work-related. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s a year of new adventures for me: working at SCOE and also teaching an AP course for the first time. It’s sometimes tempting to complain that I have to rush between two new, demanding jobs. However, what is far more true is that I have the honor of working with two amazing sets of colleagues and the opportunity to develop a micro and macro view of the changes in science education and what they mean.
When I end a week and don’t have any lessons planned for the next one, my first impulse is to grumble that I have to spend weekend time learning AP content and planning learning experiences for the students. But I can equally say that I get to learn new things, then spend time with incredible students who find biology fascinating.
WHAT IF WE ALL TRIED IT?
I wonder what would happen if we all tried replacing just a fraction of our education-based “have to” statements with “get to.” With CCSS already in play and the Next Generation Science Standards poised for implementation, there are a lot of things that feel like “have to” in science education.
We have to redesign lessons, units and, in some cases, entire curriculums. We have to make decisions about the sequence and structure of courses. We have to change some of our instruction and interactions with students. We have to break students in to new ways of learning science that they won’t all appreciate at first.
There are certainly needs and questions that we can’t wipe away with optimism and enthusiasm. Legitimately, there needs to be time structured into our day so that we can think about and make changes to curriculum and instruction. Tough decisions will need to be made. Students will struggle some with the transition, and we’ll need to develop strategies to help them.
We can’t change these realities and they need to be discussed. But the lens through which we approach this change can be altered. As science educators at this particular junction, we actuallyget to do quite a bit. We get to be creative in planning and instruction—and inspire the same creativity in students. We get the chance to engage in dialogue around decisions and truly consider what’s best for our students. We get to invite students to think in a different way, knowing that we are helping them develop skills they will take with them into the world. We get to inspire students about the STEM field at a time when it’s growing and there’s a lot of promise for employment and advancement.
I’ve already confessed that I don’t always remember my resolution. When I do, sometimes I don’t believe my own word choice. In addition, there’s no way around the fact that some things truly are a “have to” instead of a “get to.” At this time of year, when quarters and trimesters are ending and we’re all staring report cards in the face, you probably have no trouble agreeing! But even with all of this, a simple word choice has still made a difference. I am reminded more often that I’m extraordinarily lucky in my career. A change of wording also gives me hope even when the road ahead seems hard.
Perhaps the most compelling reason for me to continue pursuing my resolution is that it has the potential to impact others. “I get to” is contagious. It has inspired me to be more creative and enthusiastic, which in turn inspires colleagues and students. I encourage you to try it for one week—find one aspect of your job as an educator and replace “have to” with “get to.” If nothing else, you’ll try it, and then you’ll get to move on. But the odds are good that it will impact you and others. My hope is that it might also make the shift to Next Generation Science Standards more of a “get to” aspect of your work as a 21st century science educator.
Anna Van Dordrecht is a Teacher-on-Loan for Science with the Sonoma County Office of Education, a science teacher at Maria Carrillo High School, and a member of CSTA.
Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.
For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.
The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Marian Murphy-Shaw
If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see www.explorit.org. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Joseph Calmer
Probably like you, NGSS has been at the forefront of many department meetings, lunch conversations, and solitary lesson planning sessions. Despite reading the original NRC Framework, the Ca Draft Frameworks, and many CSTA writings, I am still left with the question: “what does it actually mean for my classroom?”
I had an eye-opening experience that helped me with that question. It came out of a conversation that I had with a student teacher. It turns out that I’ve found the secret to learning how to teach with NGSS: I need to engage in dialogue about teaching with novice teachers. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching science in some capacity for 12 years. During that time pedagogy and student learning become sort of a “hidden curriculum.” It is difficult to plan a lesson for the hidden curriculum; the best way is to just have two or more professionals talk and see what emerges. I was surprised it took me so long to realize this epiphany. Learn More…