Whenever I tell people that I’m a math teacher, the majority of the responses I receive are “Ugh! I hate math” or “I could never teach math – I’m no good at it”. One thing is for sure, I certainly have job security! Same is true with science teachers. Math and science teachers are so scarce that most districts offer stipends for math and/or science teachers.
There’s no denying that math and science have a bad reputation. I often hear other non-math teachers commenting on how bad they are at math or how much they dislike science in front of their other students, without realizing that, consequently, they are also inadvertently telling their students that they do not need math or science to be successful in life. I think that sometimes we don’t realize what an impact our comments have on students’ opinions and perceptions.
At my school, we have a reading program, which allots 40 minutes every day for all students to sit and read silently to themselves. All teachers and staff are expected to support this reading program and encourage their students to read as often as possible. The teachers, myself included, generally seem to be supportive of this reading program, as all agree that students need to be literate and well read.
This year the TAKS tests were spaced out in such a way that my school decided to dedicate one full day for all teachers to help students study for their science test and another day to help students study for their social studies test. We were provided with specific, detailed lessons, including answer keys, for each class period and simply had to do the lessons with the students. Several of my fellow teachers did the social studies lessons but refused to do the science because they either didn’t feel comfortable with the lessons or because they just didn’t think it would make a difference. I don’t understand how the same various content-area teachers who take 40 minutes out of their every day to encourage students to read can then turn around and be so un-supportive of the science department or make comments to their students about how much they hate math.
Math and science are often naturally difficult for students to understand and enjoy, and teachers’ negative references and attitudes toward these subjects only worsen the situation, in my opinion. As educators, I feel that we all need to be supportive of our students’ overall education, including all subjects and classes. Just as we need to encourage our students to become literate, all teachers need to encourage their students to be successful in math and science, regardless of their own personal opinions about the subjects.