Change & challenge.
Subject: Science teachers (Practice)
Self-efficacy (Psychology) (Management)
Conscience, Examination of (Methods)
Author: Ward, Daniel
Pub Date: 08/01/2011
Publication: Name: The American Biology Teacher Publisher: National Association of Biology Teachers Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Biological sciences; Education Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 National Association of Biology Teachers ISSN: 0002-7685
Issue: Date: August, 2011 Source Volume: 73 Source Issue: 6
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics Computer Subject: Company business management
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 265291894
Full Text: It is hard to believe but August is here, and for most of us a new school year is about to begin. Starting a new school year can be a challenge, even for those of us who have years of experience. The seemingly endless number of tasks that need to be completed before our students arrive can appear overwhelming. A new school year is also a time of change. Former students move on and new students, with their different personalities and abilities, create different classroom dynamics from the previous year. The new school year brings a wide range of educational emotions from excitement and anticipation to fear and dread.

Although full of changes and challenges, the new year is also an ideal time to reflect upon the previous year. Reflection and self-evaluation allows all educators to meet these changes and challenges with confidence and a positive attitude.

As I shared in March, "reflective teaching allows educators to analyze their teaching skills, the subject matter, and motivation of the students, with the goal of improving the overall learning process" (Montgomery & Thomas, 1998). Lewis (no date) suggests that you ask yourself several tough questions when reflecting on your teaching. Five essential questions stand out when performing self-reflection. They are (Lewis, no date):

* Where did I fail as a teacher in the past? Where did I succeed?

* What can I do to be more proactive in my professional development?

* Are there any aspects of my profession that I am ignoring out of fear of change or lack of knowledge?

* How have my beliefs about learning and pedagogy changed over the years?

* Do I still enjoy teaching? If not, what can I do to increase my enjoyment in my chosen profession?

In a profession as challenging as teaching, truthful self-reflection is an annual procedure essential to avoiding entrapment in educational stagnation. If you don't regularly examine your teaching you may end up becoming one of those tenured, stagnant teachers that are stuck in a rut, presenting the same ineffective and outdated lessons year after year, and no longer enjoying your educational career. Educational stagnation may contribute to nearly 50% of the new teachers who quit within the first 5 years of teaching (Lambert, 2006).

Let's be honest: very few of us reach our potential to be the best possible educator without positive influences and evaluations. Providing honest answers to these questions will influence specific strategies for improving all teachers, whether tenured teachers or rookies.

Annual membership in the National Association of Biology Teachers provides valuable resources that can help in developing these positive classroom educational strategies.

Your annual membership in NABT provides a variety of biological-education-based publications, technological tools, networks, sections, and contacts all designed to make you a more effective biological educator:

* The American Biology Teacher, a peer-reviewed journal that is a relevant source of biology teaching pedagogy and lab activities

* News & Views, the NABT's biweekly newsletter, with timely information such as scientific updates and workshop opportunities.

* The NABT BioBlog is an excellent resource where science educators share information, teaching tips, and a variety of useful information.

* The NABT website is user-friendly and has links to biology education resources as well as numerous position statements to guide biology educators in decision making and support on such topics as teaching evolution, equity in science education, administrative support for life-science teachers, and characteristics of exemplary life-science teaching.

* To better address the unique needs and challenges of its diverse membership, the NABT has created specific sections devoted to AP Biology, Elementary/Middle School, Two-Year Community College, Four-Year College & University, Outreach & Informal Education, International Studies, and the Role & Status of Women and Minorities in Biology Education.

* The NABT National Conference brings together high school biology and college educators, scientists, vendors, experts, and informal biology educators from across the United States and Canada to share classroom activities, commercial products, and updated content and to form and maintain friendships.

One of the best things about teaching is that every school year offers a fresh start. Make the most of these new beginnings... renew your NABT membership.. .encourage your colleagues to join the NABT as well. Move forward with confidence as a thoughtful, enlightened, and motivated NABT biology teacher.

Be the best biology educator you can be!


Lambert, L. (2006). Half of teachers quit in 5 years. Washington Post, 9 May, p. AO7.

Lewis, B. (no date). The value of self-reflection - any time of year, it's important to self reflect. Retrieved from od/professionaldevelopment/a/self_reflection.htm.

Montgomery, P. & Thomas, J. (1998). On becoming a good teacher: reflective practice with regard to children's voices. Journal of Teacher Education, 49, 372-381.

DOI: 10.1525/abt.2011.73.6.1

Dan Ward

NABT President--2011
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.