May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

A Year in the Life of Two First Year Teachers: Part Three

Posted: Monday, November 1st, 2010

by Rick Pomeroy, with Sara and Ellen

Now that the school year is well underway, I thought it would be interesting to hear from Sara and Ellen about their experiences with their induction programs (BTSA).  If you are a BTSA provider or mentor, please consider sending some comments to Sara and Ellen at

Rick: Sara and Ellen, California credentialing regulations require that to earn a clear credential, you must participate in a two-year induction program. Most school districts offer this through BTSA. Have you had an opportunity to participate in an induction program this year? If you have, how has it helped?

Sara: I have started the BTSA process and I am already a couple months into it.  If I am being completely honest, I have yet to see how BTSA will help me.  So far, the assignments have not been helpful and, I believe, have actually taken up valuable time that I could be spending planning lessons.  Much of it seems like a complete repeat of all the work I put in during my student teaching year and that is very frustrating for me.  My BTSA support provider (who is also the only one for about 60 teachers) has told us that you can only get out of BTSA what you put in.  Unfortunately, as a first-year teacher, much of my effort is focused elsewhere.

Ellen: At my school of employment, the teachers are required to participate in BTSA.  We have only had one meeting, but I believe I have a good feel about the way the program works.  Unfortunately, the program is a little disorganized in my district, so people do not know when the meetings are or where they take place.  However, the organization aside, I can see some positive aspects of the program.  The most helpful part of BTSA is the meetings with the induction groups.  This allows me to debrief with other teachers about my experiences and frustrations in the classroom.  It is nice to have that support offered on a weekly basis by someone who has taught for years.  On the other hand, the assignments are not as helpful because they are so time-consuming, and they are very similar to the dreaded checklist of every program.  Overall, I feel the program’s assignments take valuable time away from planning lessons but that the debrief sessions are extremely helpful.

Rick: What part of this experience has been the most helpful and why do you think that is the case?  What would help more?

Sara: I believe that getting time to simply get ideas from other people would be much more helpful than the long and uninformative meetings that we must endure.  I feel best when I am able to talk to someone else about their ideas and methods because, though I am fresh out of a credential program, there are still plenty of strategies that I have yet to learn about.  Every teacher has their own unique methods, and I would rather spend the BTSA meetings finding out about them or planning lessons that incorporate some of those ideas.  I believe that would be the most helpful and valuable way to spend my time.

Ellen: As stated above, the most helpful part of the BTSA experience is the meetings.  Being in a new environment and having a new job can be tough and at times makes you feel isolated.  The meetings allow for time to talk about frustrations weekly, so emotions are not bottled up.  The first year of teaching is considered to be the hardest, so the meetings allow for support and emotional growth throughout the year.  As for what would help more, if we were assigned about half of the work, and spent more time on those assignments, I feel I would get something out of each assignment.  At this point, there are so many tasks to tackle, it seems unmanageable and ridiculous.  If BTSA stressed quality of assignments over quantity and the checklist idea, I feel many more teachers would benefit from the induction program.

Rick: What question would you like to ask experienced teachers about what to expect between November and the end of the first semester?  (Experienced teachers may send responses to

Sara: During my student teaching, the school ended its first semester in mid-January.  The school I am currently at ends its semester in December, right before the holiday break.  What are experiences that other teachers have about the differences in when these semesters end, and are there any issues that I should be aware of/prepared for?

Ellen: I teach on a block schedule similar to college semesters, where students take four classes from August to January, and then switch to four new classes from January to June.  I am very pressed for instructional time and have to push students through material.  Does anyone have any good/bad experiences giving work to students over Thanksgiving and winter breaks?  Does anyone recommend assigning work or is it just a lost cause?  I am struggling with what to expect of high school chemistry students.  Any feedback would be great.

Rick: I want to thank both Sara and Ellen for being frank and open with their comments.  BTSA is a statewide program that will undoubtedly be implemented differently in different districts, and I think we can see that happening here.  I appreciate their efforts to participate in their BTSA programs and encourage our members to join in the types of conversations that they say are most helpful to them.  In their responses to the final prompt this month, they ask some specific questions.  Please consider taking a few minutes to jot them a short email with your thoughts at

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

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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.

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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

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:

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.