What Did Science and Social Studies Ever Do To YOU?
Alternative title for this post – When Are We Going To Stop Shafting the Good Stuff?
Yesterday I gave some ideas (Okay, I gave THE idea that will change your LIFE.) about how to organize all the crap we teachers feel the need to shlep home every night only to have it stare at us as we attempt to, oh, I don’t know, clean our houses, make dinner or (gasp) try to enjoy our evenings. Together we discussed organizing our (what can I call it now?) Teacher Crap into a series of folders. And I made the comment that I usually combine Science and Social Studies materials into one folder…because for some reason those subjects always get the shaft. Or at least the tended to at my school.
Our mornings were routine and untouchable. None of the shenanigans (surprise assemblies, impromptu parents showing up with a freaking birthday cake unannounced, etc) seemed to take place in the morning. The morning was sacred. And while I was lucky to have a great deal of control over when I taught each subject and in what order, it was made very clear that The Mornings were reserved for Reading and Writing. And sometimes Word Study. Of course, in the afternoon, we had to fit in Math. Then we had to go to some sort of special (read: Prep, glorious prep!), we read a book out loud and WHAM! It was time to go.
But wait, what about poor science or lonely social studies? Nobody seemed to care. Oh, they talked a big game about the importance of these subjects, but somehow never seemed to really be involved in the real conversation about THERE’S NOT ENOUGH TIME IN THE DAY TO DO IT ALL.
My Super Colleagues and I would often sit together to plot out our time. We liked to stay relatively on the same page. God forbid we don’t teach reading for an hour a day, five days a week. Shame on us if you don’t plan for five blocks of writing at 50 minutes each. We were insane to even THINK about, suggest, or even hint at skimping on an hour of math a day, every day, not including all the math we did during our morning meeting. Let’s see, with transitions and the normal B.S. of an elementary school classroom, that all equals about three hours of instructional time. Plus thirty minutes for your Morning Meeting (That was all me people. You don’t want to see me sans my coffee or my a.m. circle time.) And lunch which was 45 minutes. And a “prep”. Another 45 minutes. And you’re up to about 5, 5 and a half hours of the seven hour instructional day. Mix in your Read Aloud, some testing, a dash of second grade drama and dismissal routines and it’s gone. The day is gone. I don’t know how it happens. It sounds like enough time. But it never was. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating for a longer day (although I was often heard saying in moments of insanity, “I need two more hours with them, just two more hours!”). I just missed teaching science and social studies.
I lobbied hard for making more time for these subjects. Pointed out that they were often the most engaging for our students. Discussed how we could creatively incorporate our learning in reading, writing and math INTO the science and social studies curriculum, thereby making necessary connections between these disciplines in the minds of our little friends.
Me: I just am so excited by this! I think we could do some really great small reading groups and then have each group prepare their subsequent learning for the class. It’s like we could work on non-fiction reading strategies throughout the year instead of strangely isolating them into one month.
Them (a.k.a. NOT my Super Colleagues):
Me: OOO! And I thought about all the different types of non-narrative writing we could do…I mean, observations, little reports, pamphlets. We could teach them to create a timeline with text. Maybe even work on some slide shows or power points on a given subject!
Me: I mean, then we could take out those random isolated non-fiction reading and writing units, which would give us more time and maybe we could actually get through everything. Ha! I’ve NEVER gotten through everything before! How cool would that be? I’m really excited about thinking about the ways we could make this work…I know it would take some time, but I think it would be really beneficial for the kids. If I’M this excited, think about how they’ll feel.
And so, my friends Science and Social Studies continued to get the shaft. Until I grew a pair and decided to just do what I knew was right.