I am a Vintage classroom teacher located in the heartland of the United States. I have taught in small rural districts as well as in a large urban setting. Each of these settings has its own challenges and its own rewards. There has never been a year when I have not learned from my students and from fellow members of the faculty.
Science Stuff has an article today about safety in Science, and I thought I would share some things I learned about science safety in an elementary classroom.
I attended a conference a few years ago and learned that as an elementary teacher that I am held to the same guidelines as the high school teachers.
I was told I need to teach safety, everyone had to take a safety test and get a score of 100%, and I had to have a safety contract signed by the parents and the student. If I didn't have those things on file prior to something happening, I was opening myself up legally should someone get hurt, even a simple cut.
I asked about the 100% score and was asked if I thought a child only need to act safely 90% of the time. That was why it has to be a perfect score, to show that you expect them to be safe 100% of the time.
Did you know that if you have baking soda and common kitchen ingredients in your room to use with Science, those are considered chemicals and need to be stored according to safety guidelines? If you do experiments of any kind in your room, it is a lab.
Many elementary teachers have told me that they thought it was stupid, they didn't teach high school science and they would not waste their time. I never understood how teaching safety and protecting myself legally was a waste of time.
I for one would rather error on the side of protecting myself legally, especially since the director of Science education for the state was the one who told me when I was having a conversation with her. I was totally unaware of the issues.
It was also recommended that there not be a class pet that might bite because again the liability was totally mine as the teacher. It popped into my mind, the parent that had to be called the week before because our class' pet hamster had bit her son, because he was being mean to the hamster. Thank goodness the mom's reply was, " I hope he learned a lesson about his choices. He deserved to be bit."
In this time of lawsuits galore, can we ever be too careful with the amount of liability we assume? I am not a lawyer, I am just sharing the information I received. Liability may vary from state to state.
Here is a link to the article from Science Stuff about her high school class.