September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

I Got the Job – What Do I Do? Part 4

Posted: Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Rick Pomeroy

You have just accepted your first job and now the real work and worry begins. What will I teach, how will I set the perfect climate on the first day, how will I keep all of those students’ names straight, and stay up to date on all of that grading? These are very common questions for new teachers. Depending on the date when you accept the job, you will have anywhere from three to four months to prepare for the most important day of your new career. You may not know the exact teaching assignment, you might not even know which school, but that is not a reason sit and wait. Your students are going to show up for your classes on the first day and you need to be ready. So, what would I recommend?

First, now that you know the school district where you will be teaching, I recommend that you start by making it a point to learn as much about the community as possible. Learn which industries and businesses are important to the economy; get a feel for the different parts of town and the resources that are available to your students during the summer. THEN, figure out how you can use that information in your teaching. Think about ways for making the S&E Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and the Cross Cutting Concepts relevant for students. By incorporating the things students and their parents do every day, you can personalize many parts of your curriculum. Even if you are working with a departmental curriculum, you can use your knowledge of the community as an example or application of the content that you are teaching.

Second, if you have not already purchased a copy of the NGSS and the Conceptual Framework, get one. These will be the foundational tools for curriculum development for the coming years. It is unlikely that the new California State Framework will be available before the end of the summer so it will be important to have these foundational documents to guide you. Remember, the Conceptual Framework lays out what students should know and be able to do by the time they graduate from high school. The NGSS describes how they will demonstrate that understanding. Neither is a curriculum in itself but both should be considered as you begin to plan what you are going to teach. Even if you do not have a specific assignment, become deeply familiar with these documents now so that when the curriculum planning begins, you are ready.



Third, when you eventually know your teaching assignment, reach out to the other members of the science faculty to get a feel for the resources available to you, the dynamics of the department, and any logistical issues such as bell schedules, school traditions and possible opportunities for cross-curricular instructional opportunities. It is also good to make connections to other new teachers at your school. Even if they are in a different subject area, you will share many of the same experiences, emotions, successes and challenges over your first year. It is always great to have a support system that sees the experience in the same way that you do.

Finally, take some time off to have some fun. You have worked hard from the start of your undergraduate career through what has likely been a stressful and busy year as a pre-service teacher. Over the next three to four months, take some time to enjoy the things that made you want to be a teacher. Enjoy the kinds of things that recharge your mind and your emotions. It is OK to get away or travel a little, but be sure that you don’t do it at the expense of participating in training opportunities or to the extent that you ignore steps 1, 2, and 3. You have worked hard to become a teacher and you want to enter the classroom on the first day charged up and ready to take on the world. Remember to celebrate your first day of teaching. Take pictures of your students in each class on the first day. There will never be another first day of teaching so cherish and enjoy it.

This is the last in a series of articles designed to support this year’s pre-service teachers in their quest for that first job. In Part 1 I discussed researching the district and the schools where you want to teach. Part 2 was designed as a guide to the interview process and Part 3 offered some suggestions on how to deal with the job offer. Part 4 is designed to offer some thoughts and suggestions for preparing for the job that you have accepted.

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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 Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 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.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. 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.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.