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Minnesota Teachers of Earth Science:

A Series of Profiles


Brian Harney
North End Elementary
St. Paul, Mn

In his 7th year of teaching, Brian Harney describes himself as a teacher from the old school of tough love. Caring about his 6th grade students makes him want to work hard and make his students work hard. This love for his students is evident as he moves through the classroom helping students and keeping them on task. But with large class sizes, inadequate materials, and limited time to set up labs, some lessons, especially science activities, become a real challenge. In addition, kids come to school every day with different needs and mindsets and so planning becomes even more complicated.

"It is frustrating when we are doing a science lesson and the kids don't get it. I try to revisit [the concepts] from a different perspective to capture their attention but sometimes the kids are mentally not there or I can't relate it to what is important to them."

Brian believes future teachers should have more student teaching experience. Even though he considers himself organized, with an ability to problem solve and an intelligence to think quickly on his feet, Brian feels that more practice with a supervisor would help build resources for a variety of situations. Science instructors could also help with the challenge of finding age appropriate activities for kids.

"In science methods classes, we touched on everything, worked in groups and developed patience to see the lesson through. My science classes at Mankato State were also good. However, we did experiments and learned topics without any thought to teaching them. Elementary classrooms don't have bunsen burners or other equipment that colleges do so spending time developing and practicing activities that would work for elementary kids would be beneficial. "

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