January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

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

Posted: Friday, October 1st, 2010

by Rick Pomeroy, with Sara and Ellen

In our last issue, you were introduced to Sara and Ellen, two first-year teachers, one in northern California and the other in southern California, both of whom are teaching chemistry.  In the first edition, we learned a little bit about their anticipation for their first days of school.  This month, we get a short glimpse into how their years began.  Sara started school in early August and Ellen two weeks later.  Please feel free to send comments or questions to Sara and Ellen at SaraandEllen@gmail.com.

Rick: How did your first official day of teaching go?  Were there any surprises?

Sara: Because we are on alternating block schedule, I actually had two first days of school.  The first day was with my natural science classes, where I did a lot of “getting to know you” exercises.  Many of the students in these classes are not-quite-college-bound students and often have behavior issues, so I thought it would be best to just spend the first day forming a solid relationship with them and give them a chance to get to know me.  It seemed to go really well, but I could tell right away that one of my classes in particular would give me a bit of trouble.  My chemistry classes were absolutely wonderful.  They were very concerned about the difficulty of the class, but seemed relieved when I told them that I wanted them to succeed in my class and that, while chemistry is a very difficult subject, I was there to help them.  I did a demonstration for them, and, instead of just saying “Wow, that’s cool,” they were asking me questions about what was going on and trying to analyze it.  I thought that was great, and it got me even more excited to be teaching them.

Ellen: I found the first day of school to be pretty chaotic and fun overall.  We are on a block schedule, so there are four 90-minute periods each day.  I teach two chemistry courses and one Project Lead The Way Principles of Biomedicine course.  For the chemistry classes, I introduced myself by using a PowerPoint, had the students introduce themselves, and I also performed a few demonstrations for the students.  We then had a class discussion about what science and chemistry are, etc.  Both classes were a lot of fun and full of students who participated.  For the biomed course, I did the same introduction as chemistry, and then we watched a video I made for the beginning of the curriculum.  It was a great way to start because students used collaborative groups to assess the situation they were shown.

The chaotic or surprising part of the day had to do with all of the schedule changes.  My rosters showed between 32-36 students for each class; however, about 40 students showed up for each of my classes, so right from the beginning I needed extra desks andchairs and a brand new seating chart for each class.  That being said, the students were amazing about it and helped me find seats for everyone.

Rick: Now that the first weeks of school have passed, what do you wish you had known before the first week of school?

Sara: Due to budget cuts, there was only one day of before-school meetings, and that only lasted about three hours.  I was given so much information that I forgot half of it and couldn’t even think of other questions to ask because I was so overloaded.  Now that a couple weeks have passed, I am just now getting a lot of the information that I should have known before school started.  Much of it, though, were things that I would never have thought to ask until it actually came up.  I wish I had known all the punishment policies of the school, such as tardies and giving detentions, so that I could integrate them with my own policies.  I also wish I would have known exactly what equipment my classroom should have.  I was missing remotes to the TV and the projector, and I didn’t have a filing cabinet or chair.  I wasn’t sure what I was responsible for getting or what my classroom should have.  Thankfully, I found an extremely helpful custodian that supplied me with a chair and filing cabinet, and, eventually, I was given replacement remotes for the electronics.

Ellen: Well, my situation was a little different because I was a student teacher and a long-term sub all year last year at this school.  So, fortunately, I knew a lot of the policies from the previous year.  The only policy change I wish I had been aware of was how to deal with an IT issue.  By the time I found the form to fill out to get some of the computers fixed, every other teacher had already turned theirs in; needless to say, I am still waiting.  Otherwise, my school did a great job at the meetings of notifying teachers of school policies.

Rick: What would you like to ask other first-year teachers?  (First-year teachers, please send your replies to SaraandEllen@gmail.com.)

Sara: I have had somewhat of an interesting transition into this department.  The chemistry department in particular (there are four other chem teachers) is extremely established.  During my student teaching year, I felt very much at home with much of the department, which operated like a family, and everyone would eat lunch together.  Here, teachers eat lunch in their own classrooms, so there isn’t much interaction, and the other teachers operate similarly with just a few differences.  I am used to more collaboration, but it is hard when the other teachers are so established already.  I don’t feel like I am being left out or anything; everyone is very nice and helpful, and they always check up on me to make sure I don’t need anything.  But I guess I was just expecting something more like my student-teaching experience.  Is any other new teacher going through an awkward transition like this, either good or bad?

Ellen: The teachers I work with are absolutely fabulous people.  They are always willing to help me with everything, but our teaching styles are very, very different.  Some teachers say not to smile for the first week, and others do labs or demonstrations to engage students from day one.  I want to know how other teachers schedule their first days of school.  It seems that there are many ways to go about introducing students to the new topics, and I am interested in trying some new strategies.

Rick: Thank you, Sara and Ellen, for giving us a short glimpse of some of the feelings that many of us have forgotten.  It is great to hear your stories and your enthusiasm for teaching.  Next month, we will provide some of the answers to Sara’s and Ellen’s questions and hear about  some of their early successes.

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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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California Science Test Academy for Educators

Posted: Thursday, February 15th, 2018

California Science Test Academy for Educators

To support implementation of the California Science Test (CAST), the California Department of Education is partnering with Educational Testing Service and WestEd to offer a one-day CAST Academy for local educational agency (LEA) science educators, to be presented at three locations in California from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. As an alternative to traveling, LEA teams can participate virtually via WebEx on one of the dates listed below.

The dates and locations for the CAST Academy are as follows:

  • Monday, April 23, 2018—Sacramento
  • Wednesday, April 25, 2018—Fresno
  • Thursday, April 26, 2018—Irvine

The CAST Academy will help participants develop a deeper understanding of the assessment design and expectations of the CAST. The academy also will provide information and activities designed to assist educators in their implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards and three-dimensional learning to help them gain an understanding of how these new science assessment item types can inform teaching and learning. The CAST Academy dates above are intended for school and district science instructional leaders, including teacher leaders, teacher trainers, and instructional coaches. Additional trainings will be offered at a later date specifically for county staff. In addition, curriculum, professional development, and assessment leaders would benefit from this training.

A $100 registration fee will be charged for each person attending the in-person training. Each virtual team participating via WebEx will be charged $100 for up to 10 participants through one access point. Each workshop will have the capacity to accommodate a maximum of 50 virtual teams. Each virtual team will need to designate a lead, who is responsible for organizing the group locally. Registration and payment must be completed online at http://www.cvent.com/d/6tqg8k.

For more information regarding the CAST Academy, please contact Elizabeth Dilke, Program Coordinator, Educational Testing Service, by phone at 916-403-2407 or by e‑mail at caasppworkshops@ets.org.

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.

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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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.

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.