January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

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.

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis.

One Response

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

    R

Leave a Reply

LATEST POST

STEM Conference Hosted by CMSESMC

Posted: Saturday, January 14th, 2017

The Council of Math/Science Educators of San Mateo County will be hosting the 41st annual STEM Conference this February 4, 2017 at the San Mateo County Office of Education. This STEM Conference is the place to get lots of new lessons and ideas to use in your classroom. There will be over twenty-five workshops and a variety of exhibitors that provide participants with a wide range of practical and realistic ideas and resources to use in their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs from Pre-K to grade 12. With California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, we are dedicated to ensuring that we prepare our teachers to take on these educational policies.

Teachers, administrators and parents are invited to explore the many exciting aspects of STEM education and learn about and discuss the latest news, information and issues. This is also an opportunity to network with colleagues who can assist you in building your programs and meet new friends that share your interests and love of teaching.

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.

Opportunities to Support NGSS Implementation with CTC

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

What follows are several opportunities for science teachers to work with the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) on various projects that have direct or indirect implications for the implementation of NGSS in California. Please consider applying to one or more of the following opportunities.

CSET Field Testing Opportunities

Field testing opportunities for future CSET Multiple Subjects and Science tests are available beginning Dec. 5, 2016. Participants will have the choice between a $50 Barnes and Noble eGift Card or a $75 test fee voucher that may be applied to future test registration fees. For more information, including how to register to participate, please visit: http://www.pearsonvue.com/espilot/cset.asp. 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.

Submit Your NGSS Lessons and Units Today!

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

Achieve has launched and is facilitating an EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science–a group of expert reviewers who will evaluate the quality and alignment of lessons and units to the standards–in an effort to identify and shine a spotlight on emerging high-quality lesson and unit plans designed for the NGSS.

If you or your state, district, school, or organization has designed NGSS-aligned instructional materials, please consider submitting these in order to help provide educators across the country with various models and templates of high-quality lesson and unit plans. 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.

Opportunity for High School Students – Los Angeles County

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

An upcoming Perry Outreach Program on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles, CA. The Perry Outreach Program is a free, one-day, hands-on experience for high school and college-aged women who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine and engineering. Students will hear from women leaders in these fields and try it for themselves by performing mock orthopaedic surgeries and biomechanics experiments. 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.

Science Education Policy Update

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

January 2017 has proven to be a very busy month for science education policy and CA NGSS implementation activities. CSTA has been and will be there every step of the way, seeking and enacting all options to support high-quality science education and the successful implementation of CA NGSS.

California Department of Education/U.S. Department of Education Science Double-Testing Waiver Hearing

The year started with California Department of Education’s (CDE) hearing with the U.S. Department of Education conducted via WebEx on January 6, 2017. This hearing was the final step in California’s efforts to secure a waiver from the federal government in order to discontinue administration of the old CST and suspension of the reporting of student test scores on a science assessment for two years. As reported by EdSource, the U.S. Department of Education representative, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary John King Jr., committed to making her final ruling “very shortly.” Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley presented on behalf of CDE during the hearing and did an excellent job describing the broad-based support for this waiver in California, the rationale for the waiver, and California’s commitment to the successful implementation of a new high-quality science assessment. As previously reported, California is moving forward with its plans to administer a census pilot assessments this spring. The testing window is set to open on March 20, 2017. For more information visit New CA Science Test: What You Should Know.

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.