January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

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 saraandellen@gmail.com.

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 SaraandEllen@gmail.com.)

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 SaraandEllen@gmail.com.

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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Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.



MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

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.

The Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Reflections from an Administrator

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

My name is Mrs. Kelly Patchen, and I am proud to be an elementary assistant principal working in the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) at Louis Bohn and McKinley Elementary Schools. Each of the schools I support are Title I K-5 schools with about 450 students, a diverse student population, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and students living in poverty. We’re also lucky to be part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative with the K-12 Alliance. Learn More…

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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.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal 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.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

The California Science Teachers Association’s mission is to promote high-quality science education, and one of the best practice’s we use to fulfill that mission is through the use of our Facebook group pages. CSTA hosts several closed and moderated Facebook group pages for specific grade levels, (Elementary, Middle, and High School), pages for district coaches and science education faculty, and the official CSTA Facebook page. These pages serve as an online resource for teachers and coaches to exchange teaching methods, materials, staying update on science events in California and asking questions. CSTA is happy to announce the creation of a 6th group page called, California Administrators Supporting Science. 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.

Find Your Reason to Engage

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Jill Grace

I was recently reflecting on events in the news and remembered that several years ago, National Public Radio had a story about a man named Stéphane Hessel, a World War II French resistance fighter, Nazi concentration camp survivor, and contributor to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The story focused on a book he had published, Time for Outrage (2010).

In it, Hessel makes the argument that the worst attitude is indifference:

“Who is in charge; who are the decision makers? It’s not always easy to discern. We’re not dealing with a small elite anymore, whose actions we can clearly identify. We are dealing with a vast, interdependent world that is interconnected in unprecedented ways. But there are unbearable things all around us. You have to look for them; search carefully. Open your eyes and you will see. This is what I tell young people: If you spend a little time searching, you will find your reasons to engage. The worst attitude is indifference. ‘There’s nothing I can do; I get by’ – adopting this mindset will deprive you of one of the fundamental qualities of being human: outrage.  Our capacity for protest is indispensable, as is our freedom to engage.”

His words make me take pause when I think of the status of science in the United States. A general “mistrust” of science is increasingly pervasive, as outlined in a New Yorker article from the summer of 2016. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.