May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

A Year in the Life of Two First Year Teachers: A Play in 10 parts

Posted: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

by Rick Pomeroy, with Sara and Ellen

This article is the first in a series of monthly articles following the first year of teaching for Sara and Ellen.  Throughout the year, you will see the challenges each face in their new careers in very different schools, one in northern California and one in southern California. The content of the articles will be a conversation, including their responses to my questions and hopefully your comments to them through email.  If you would like to send them comments, please address those to saraandellen@gmail.com.  Due to space limitations, your comments will be summarized in the following month’s column.

Rick: Sara and Ellen, why did you decide to pursue a career in science teaching?

Sara: Teaching has always been something that I have been interested in.  I was a tutor throughout high school and felt that I was able to explain things more clearly than some of my teachers.  In high school, I found myself loving a subject that many of my peers loathed: chemistry.  I decided to pursue my Bachelor’s degree in chemistry because it was the one subject that I was both interested in and felt that I would enjoy doing on a daily basis.  Going into college, I had my heart set on being a forensic chemist, but I quickly realized that working in a lab all day would not make me happy.  I decided to do a teaching internship in a high school chemistry classroom and found that I really enjoyed helping kids learn about a subject that I fell in love with.  That internship was the final push for me to become a science teacher.

Ellen: I decided to pursue a career in science teaching for a few reasons.  Throughout my life, I have always had a passion for science, so naturally, I excelled in science in college and received a bachelor’s degree in neurobiology, physiology, and behavior.  During my undergraduate years, I worked in a biotechnology lab where we traveled to local schools and directed high school students through different laboratories.  These teaching experiences paired with eight years of teaching dance at local studios to students of all ages led me to my decision of pairing my two loves: science and teaching.

Rick: Please tell me a little bit about the subjects you will be teaching this year and the schools where you are teaching.

Sara: I am teaching at a comprehensive high school in southern California.  The school has over 2,800 enrolled students, with 10 percent English language learners and 35 percent qualifying for free or reduced price lunch.  The school is relatively new, with the upcoming school year being just its fifth academic year.  The bell schedule is an alternating block schedule, where one day the students attend three of their classes for two hours each, then the next day the other three classes.  I will be teaching three sections of natural science, which is designed mainly for sophomores who are not quite ready to take chemistry.  I will also be teaching two sections of general chemistry, designed for sophomores.  The students all take biology or life science as freshmen.

Ellen: I will be teaching at a traditional high school located in northern California.  It has been classified as a Program Improvement school.  This school serves a diverse population, including families with a wide range of educational, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.  Approximately 1,800 students attend this school, and over thirty languages are spoken on campus.  The two significant languages that are spoken on campus, other than English, are Spanish and Russian.

The school is on a 4×4 block schedule, meaning students attend four 90-minute classes a semester.  Each teacher teaches three of the four classes; the remaining period is a prep-period.  I will be teaching two college-prep chemistry courses and one Principles of Biomedicine course each semester.

Rick: What is your biggest concern about starting your first year of teaching?

Sara: My biggest concern is adjusting to the alternating block schedule.  My high school and the school where I student taught were both on the traditional six classes a day schedule.  I used an entire curriculum that was designed for one-hour classes.  Therefore, I will need to alter many of my lesson plans to make sure that I am able to keep my students engaged and moving forward for the entire two hours of class.

Ellen: I am in a unique position because the school where I am teaching this year is also the school where I did my student teaching assignments, so I believe my concerns are less than that of other new teachers.  That being said, my biggest concern about starting my first year of teaching is incorporating science inquiry-based lessons into a direct instruction system that is in place at this school.  However, most of the science staff are very supportive of this style of teaching, so I hope that the department will all move towards the inquiry-based science lessons.

Author’s Note: Due to the production schedule of eCCS, these articles will be written about a month prior to publication.

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Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis and is a past-president of CSTA.

One Response

  1. Hey, very nice article. Can’t wait to hear more.

    R

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LATEST POST

CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 2017)

Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.