One reason could be a lack of vision--they can't see the glory of the final product. At the beginning of this school year, I assumed most people who were not implementing the NGSS in their classrooms fell into this category. I thought that if I could just help them see the vision, they'd jump on board and become amazing NGSS educators. My goal, then, was to help people see the value of the NGSS and understand the shifts in content and pedagogy it required.
But what if that wasn't the case? What if others, like me, avoid projects that seem insurmountable? What if the real reason some teachers haven't embraced the NGSS is not the lack of vision, but the enormity of what the vision requires--a paralyzing fear? I didn't come to this question on my own; I was helped along the way by conversations with university professors. When Achieve, Inc., the national non-profit that led the writing of the NGSS, recently held a two-day workshop on NGSS implementation, the term "re-novicing" was introduced. The term captures the idea that shifting from traditional science instruction to the NGSS may take experienced teachers and put them back in the role of the novice teacher in some areas. This can be an uncomfortable place for experienced teachers to be.
This whole idea hit home with me in February as I realized the enormity of the task to which I had committed myself. I wanted to provide a resource to teachers to help them implement the NGSS; I wanted to help my district develop a better NGSS implementation plan; and I wanted to do all of this with no budget and no additional time for staff PD. "I'm not equipped to handle this," I thought. "I can't do all that and teach well at the same time."
The enormity of this task paralyzed me. It wasn't that I didn't see the vision or the need for the project; I was overwhelmed by what I was trying to accomplish. I threw up my hands in desperation (figuratively) and tried to ignore the feelings of inadequacy that washed over me. Time passed, and I put some distance between the project and me. I realized that this was the feelings that some teachers might have as they looked toward the NGSS.
Still feeling overwhelmed, I broke the task down into meaningful chunks, just as I plan to do with NGSS implementation for teachers who need it.
If you're a little intimidated by the vision of the NGSS, where can you start? You can start by checking out this presentation that a colleague and I made to a group of science teachers and administrators to offer them "small steps" toward NGSS implementation.
If you're in Kentucky, you can join the same colleague and me at the Let's TALK conference in June where we will present an extended version of that presentation.
You can also keep watching this space because I'm going to launch a new website to gather these high impact small steps into one location so you can move confidently in the direction of the vision of the NGSS. The launch of the new website should happen sometime this summer, and it will be announced here when it goes live.