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 email@example.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.
Posted: Monday, March 27th, 2017
The California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) stands with our science and science education colleagues in endorsing the March For Science and its associated activities.
The decision by the CSTA Board of Directors to support the March for Science was based on the understanding that this is an opportunity to advocate for our mission of high quality science education for all and to advance the idea that science has application to everyday life, is a vehicle for lifelong learning, and the scientific enterprise expands our knowledge of the world around us. The principles and goals of the March for Science parallel those of CSTA to assume a leadership role in solidarity with our colleagues in science and science education and create an understanding of the value of science in the greater community. CSTA believes that the integrity of the nature of science and that the work of scientists and science educators should be valued and supported. We encourage your participation to stand with us.
There are over 30 satellite marches planned for the April 22, 2017 March for Science in California (to find a march near you, click on “marches” in the upper right of the main page, select “satellite marches” and use the search feature). We encourage members who participate in the March for Science to share their involvement and promotion of science and science education. Feel free to promote CSTA on your signs and banners. For those on social media, you may share your involvement via Twitter, @cascience and our Facebook groups.
Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.
For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.
The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Marian Murphy-Shaw
If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see www.explorit.org. Learn More…