Science of Teaching
QJH science teacher Mr. Benson looks at the most recent results as any scientist would. What were the contributing factors? What stayed the same? What changed? It’s as if he has set up a graph in his head and is tracking trends from last year. A scientist will always be studying life as an experiment, and if the 2017 – 2018 school year can be any indicator of how Benson plans to handle the 2018 – 2019 year, we can expect he will be doing more of the same.
Last year’s MAAP scores show that the 8th grade class had 73% of it’s 120 students scoring proficient or above in science. Benson taught science to every one of those students and now wants to increase that number with the kids, who he met Monday of this week.
Benson explains, “I’ve had great years, but I haven’t quite got it figured out yet. I know that last year’s class bought in. I worked more on building relationships than I have in the past. We worked on the little stuff a lot more, like strategies. Students can panic in a test. We worked on that kind of stuff with science. A lot of it is confidence. You have to balance it. I try to utilize my time well. They’re going to realize that there’s something at least once a week that’s preparing them for that test.”
“Also, we were doing a lot more collaborating last year. Gilmer was using more science in his English, and I was having my students read more non-fiction articles in science. We are going to continue to do that. I’m tough, and I have high expectations, but I think my students know that I care about them. I enjoy teaching 8th graders, and I like being in a test subject. I like having those scores to keep me motivated and keep me from becoming complacent. It is a way for both my students and me to challenge ourselves.”
Ask 73% of this year’s ninth grade class what they thought about Mr. Benson last year, and you are likely to get a 100% positive response. This year’s eighth grade class will be officially polled in April and May of 2019. Benson doesn’t so much care if all of his students like him. He’s hoping that more of them will be scoring proficient and better on the 2019 science test.
In fact, with teaching, driving a bus, mentoring other teachers, and working a part-time job, we feel both lucky and selfish to be able to take any more of his time being a scientist in Quitman School District.
We just hope to give him the support he needs in the very important job he is doing while telling his students,
“I don’t like to fail. I don’t intend to start with you. I expect you to do better than what you did. You’re not just here running through the motions.”