Humble Pie – Why I’m not Teaching Biology this Year

Last week others found out what I have known for a while. I am not a good biology teacher.

I am passionate about science, helping students, and technology in class. I am not good at delivering biology content and helping students retain the information. This is why I have turned down teaching AP biology several times. Been trying to improve but progress need to speed up.

How do I know I am not a good biology teacher? Student’s standardized test scores.

Pie

Now if I know my PLN they will come to my aid and say, “stupid tests, they don’t really check understanding and learning.” To some degree this sentiment is accurate. However, if I truly help student learn biology, state tests would not be an issue. Students can pass tests without really knowing the content, but if a student knows the content, they will pass the test.

So as a result of my low biology test scores over the last couple years I will not be teaching biology next year. I will be teaching classes that do not have state tests. This will give me a chance to improve my teaching. Improvement is always the goal but now there is a fire under me.

Two years ago I was voted “Teacher of the Year” at my school. Although I was honored I was also a little dismayed. The friends at my school who voted for me have never seen me teach. So what were they voting for? My passion for teaching and science, my care for the students, the way I share tech tools/ideas with the faculty…. These qualities are great to have and I’m still honored to have been selected but what about student learning.

The assistant principal called last week to notify me of the change. To say the least I was heartbroken. She knew I had been working all summer to improve and she recommended a book I should read to help in my quest to become a better teacher (which I bought later that day and started reading). The book focuses on authentic literacy in all classes (if you want the name of the book, contact me).Truth is, I have been working hard this summer to switch to standards based grading (mastery level completion).

Last year I had 10-11 major side projects going in addition to teaching. I have reduced the side projects to 5 and have turned down offers to start other projects. The projects are not an excuse for bad teaching. If I cannot help the students learn the content in addition to growing as individuals I have not fully served my purpose.

I love learning, I love teaching, I love sharing, but most of all I love the students. They are why we do this.

Humble Pie, yes. Hold a grudge against admin because of the change, NO. They gave me a wake up call to make the necessary improvements! It is my fault for not being the teacher I need to be. If I take care of the students they way I should, the test scores will take care of themselves.

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About Adam Taylor

High School Science Teacher Nashville, TN
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7 Responses to Humble Pie – Why I’m not Teaching Biology this Year

  1. Beth Still says:

    I really appreciate your honesty. I’m so thankful that I teach social studies because in my state of Nebraska we do not test in my subject area. In most schools there seems to be a lot of emphasis on personal finance and American Government which are the two subjects where I am the weakest. It will be so nice for you to be able to have a little more flexibility in the classes you will be teaching next year. I’m glad you cut back on your side projects. Last year was the first year that I decided I was going to cut way back on projects to help preserve my sanity. I feel much better as I look ahead to this year. Good luck with your new classes. I have a feeling you will do a wonderful job no matter what classes you teach.

  2. Judy Nguyen says:

    This must have been a hard post to write. Thank you for your willingness to share. I hope the new school year brings a lot of opportunity for self-reflection and experimentation. Without having to worry about the test, you can focus more on your teaching skills. Good luck!

  3. Chrissie says:

    Awesome blog post! I think its great when people are honest and take constructive criticism so to heart. Signs of a great teacher! Can’t wait to hear more about growth along the way. Kudos!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing such an honest, thoughtful reflection with us. I wish you the best this year! Sounds like you have just the right attitude about it all.

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