John Henry 2004-2005
It is June. The end of the semester is fast approaching and so is my term as President. I like to evaluate my own teaching each year, and this semester I taught the workplace science (SNC3E) for the first time. It was very frustrating. I had a very large class and the absentee rate was fantastic – about 50 per cent – and the missing students were NOT the same every day. I had to arrange the topics in ‘clumps’ to be done in a week. I will try to make the course more suitable next year, based on my experience with it this year.
When I try to use the same process with my role as President, I cannot improve because I will not be the President next year. The question is, what have we achieved as an organization and where can we improve?
There have been many changes in STAO, especially how we communicate with our members. The website has been professionally designed and it has been very successful. We have used the website for two surveys, one that dealt with the issue of providing Crucible online. Members expressed their concerns about not having a print copy of Crucible. STAO will be reviewing this issue next year after further input from our members. We will then be able to make a decision on the print/online ratio of the Crucible.
The Secondary Committee, in preparing for the curriculum review, asked members to complete an electronic survey which will be used as the basis for our position paper. Personally, my concerns are with the Applied and College Courses. The science curriculum does not meet the needs of a large percentage of our students. The College Courses are excellent courses, but the level is very high and leaves out a large number of students who used to take the old ‘General Level’ courses. Again, personally, for Grade 9 and 10 Applied I believe we do not have enough resources at the students’ level. In summary, however, I feel the Secondary Curriculum is quite good and the changes will be implemented with little difficulty.
My real concern is with the Elementary Science and Technology Curriculum. The Elementary Federation did a survey of the implementation of the new curriculum. The results were not unexpected. Science and Technology were the least implemented of all the subjects, especially in Grades 4-6. The Technology component of the curriculum was especially a serious concern. When considering the reasons for this, I think there are a number of major factors overlapping each other. The factors are the teachers, students, time and materials. The curriculum is the most difficult I have ever seen, in terms of both student learning and the understanding needed by teachers.
There is no suggested teaching time by the Ministry for Science and Technology. Across the province the time varies from 40 hours to 110 hours, with no consistency in what is being taught. Science and Technology should be a hands-on subject and this will only occur if the materials are readily available and easy to use. This is not happening across the province. Personally I have no solutions for these problems and I hope the review will be able to do this.
I would like to thank you for the honour of being President and I wish you a great summer.