May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Decisions, Decisions, Part 3 – The Offer

Posted: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Rick Pomeroy

You have done your research, you had a great interview, and now it is time to wait. Hopefully, the wait is not too long but any time at all will seem like an eternity. During this time, it is important for you to consider your options and be prepared with your answer.

Going into the job search, you must understand that there are two players in the job search-job offer game. You are looking for a place to launch your career. It is critical that it be a position where you will have an opportunity to grow as a teacher. You will need to feel like you are a part of the faculty and wanted as part of the staff. On the other hand, the principal is working hard to fill a position(s) with the most highly qualified teacher. It is critical to them that the person they select has the credentials to teach the classes they need, the skills to do the job effectively, and a person who will become part of their school team.  In most cases, they are looking for a new teacher to fill a particular need, whether it is replacing the beloved retiring teacher or a teacher that was ineffective in the classroom. Either way, they are investing time and energy in selecting the best candidate before that person is snapped up by another district.

When an offer is made, the principal or administrator wants a response right away. They want to believe that you are as excited about joining their team as they are about making you the offer. When they call, some want an answer during that phone call. Others recognize the significance of this decision and may offer you a day or two to consider their offer. Either way, you should be ready with your decision when the offer is made. If they give you some time to respond, you need to do them the courtesy of meeting their time frame. If you know that this is the job you want, don’t put them off waiting to see what others will say. On the other hand, if you know it is not the job for you, be ready to decline and move forward. If you need time to decide, it should be time for really thinking about the job that is offered rather than waiting to see what someone else is going to offer. You want to be sure that this is the right position for you. You may have applied to several positions, some as your dream job and others as a “safe” backup. Nothing could be more nerve racking. Do I take the first job that is offered, or do I hold out for the job I really want? No one can tell you what decision to make. Location, subject, grade-level, school calendar, even the bell schedule might influence your decision but these are all things you can include in your research in preparation for your response.

By the time an offer is made, you should know if a job/district is a fit for your skills and desires. The interview should have given you some insights about the people you would be working with and a visit to the school and community, hopefully arranged before the offer, should equip you with the information you need to determine your response. Given the need for science teachers, there will be many jobs available in the coming hiring cycle. Some will be perfect, some will be a good fit, and some will miss the mark. Your task is to figure that out.

Over the past twenty years, I have mentored over 300 new science teachers. During that time, 100% of those students who wanted to teach got a job before the start of the school year. They took jobs in small rural and large urban districts, public schools charter schools and private schools, high schools, middle schools, even some science specialists in elementary schools and outdoor education programs. Some are in Northern California, some in Southern California, some are out of state and a few in other countries. Many made choices that I might have been able to predict. Based on their experiences in student teaching, I would call those “safe choices”. Others took jobs I would never have foreseen. Some are still in the jobs they took right out of their credential programs and others have relocated, changed grade levels or even subject matter. Some left teaching to pursue other interests and have since returned to the classroom, while some left for other career options both in education and out. When I run into these past students, often in some of the most out of the way places, the common theme of our conversation is that their first jobs were very important in helping them determine their ultimate career path. Each one has said that the things they learned in that first job gave them insights about teaching that student teaching and all of the credential classes never could have covered.

Going forward, the decision you make about your first job is critical and should not be taken lightly, but it is not the last job decision of your career. Do your homework, know the positives and negatives about each potential job you are applying for and be willing to consider the offers when they come in. You do not have to accept the first offer made but you should know why you make that decision. Once made, embrace it going forward. Never second-guess yourself about your choice during your first year. If the job turns out to be a mismatch for you, there will be other jobs available in future years. If it is a good match, grow in the job and embrace everything you are learning. Every day in the classroom gives you a little more experience and a new set of skills. Your growth as a teacher should be a life-long process. Enjoy it!

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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.

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Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

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.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). 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.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. 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.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. 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 NGSS 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.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.