Stages of NGSS Grief
Posted: Tuesday, August 11th, 2015
by Jill Grace
So here we are in August. You are likely a responsible science educator and have spent some time digging into NGSS and considering how you will be making some changes this school year. Observing so many teachers across California these past two years of NGSS awareness, I get the sense we could all use a good laugh at this point! (I would like to express that in no way is this intended to trivialize those suffering from grief.)
As we settle in, we realize that we have a lot of work to do get ready for the NGSS. I am experiencing a lot of emotions with respect to this change and I’ve been witnessing similar emotions in other teachers during the course of this journey we’ve been on together.
Although not an official stage of grief, I think confusion is relevant in this situation. Confusion was that moment you thought, “Wait, what? New Science standards?” and the world seemed to actually stop turning and everything went silent except for the blood you could hear rushing past your ears as it drained out of your head.
You then fell quickly into denial. “Nooooo… they can’t be serious. Someone, please tell me this is isn’t real.” You looked at your colleagues for comfort, but they just started laughing and said, “That’s a good one, I needed a laugh”. Work commenced as usual as you and your colleagues brushed off the scare. But like student references to zombies being real, it didn’t go away.
After some time to think, the anger set in. “There’s no way one more thing can possibly be added to our full plates. What are they thinking?!” It’s around this time that the mere mention of NGSS would cause your eye to twitch and your mouth to spout some choice words on the matter
After a few days to calm down and some time to let it sink in a little, you realized this was no joke. That’s when the bargaining happened. That moment when you finally started to actually read the standards. You started with the DCI’s because that felt safe and familiar. You decided that all you really had to do was make a chart to show the labs you currently do and where they will fit in NGSS, this wasn’t going to be so bad, right? That’s when it caught your attention that you had some new things to teach and you chatted with your principal, “If I do this, I’ll get that new piece of lab equipment, right”? You convinced yourself that this could work to your advantage, “Bring it on”!
A few months, articles, workshops, twitter NGSS chats, and webinars later, it finally hits you. You have to teach three dimensionally and you need a phenomenon. You can’t just do the one-for-one lab swap. You are utterly doomed. In a moment of weakness, you busted out that tub of ice cream and downed it to the shock and disgust of your family (if it’s Rocky Road it counts as integrating geology, right?)
Ironically, the more you began to dig, the more you began to realize that the NGSS were going to be truly transformative for student learning. As a teacher you have a long road ahead of you, change isn’t easy, and this is going to be a lot of work. But looking past that, you can now clearly see that students will be engaged, students will be thinkers, students will be doing science. You can learn to live with this. Dare I say you even feel a little excited about the change? That’s when it finally crept up on you… acceptance.
Of course, as any good science teacher, you know that the only thing that flows in a true cycle is a life cycle. This thing is probably a lot more like a really messy rock or carbon cycle situation.
After acceptance you had that moment when you went back to confusion: “So this is just Common Core for science?” a friend asked with that tone in their voice. You stumbled for a moment and didn’t know how to answer. (For the record, it’s not, but you knew that, right?) You attended the state-wide Roll Out and fell back into anger because we did an ecology conceptual flow and even though the session was intended to showcase a tool and not content, it had nothing to do with physics (or is that confusion?) Then there was that moment you realized you now have to teach some Earth science and depression hit. That freaked you out and you started bargaining with your colleague about swapping semesters, “I’ll teach the chemistry and you’ll teach the Earth science and happy hour will be on me for eternity.” Then there was that time you plunged back into denial when you realized you didn’t have the first clue about engineering. But you pushed forward and tried some new things this year anyway and at the end of the year, a kid came up to you and told you that they had no idea they could learn so much. You glanced over at your cheat sheet with all of the NGSS acronyms decoded, and beamed with acceptance. “I can do this!” you shout triumphantly to the student who is now looking confused and slowly backing away towards the door.
Yes folks, this is a dizzying but empowering journey. Good thing we are in this together and can support one another!
Need a little more support to help you through this? CSTA moderates five different Facebook groups to help foster collaboration between California educators. Request to join the group applicable to what you teach:
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…