May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Preparing for a Student Teacher

Posted: Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Megan McKenzie, Corey Lee, Yukako Kawakatsu, and Rick Pomeroy

As the beginning of the school year approaches, teachers begin to think of all of the things they have to do to be ready for the first day of school. Ordering supplies, mapping the curriculum, developing that perfect opening day activity, and arranging the room to reflect this year’s focus on STEM or science and engineering practices all dominate the planning process. But what should you do if you are hosting a student teacher for the first time this year? Recently, I asked three early career teachers what they would do when planning for a student teacher. By their own admissions, their answers are a blend of what they would have wanted when they started student teaching and the things they plan to do for the new teachers they will be working with this year.

MM: I will develop a yearlong calendar to provide my student teacher with an overview of the experiences my students will have this year. I am planning to make sure that he has access to the campus computer systems. He will need a school email address, and a login to the grading and data system. The email will allow him to communicate professionally with parents and the login will facilitate his monitoring of student learning. I want to make sure that I set aside some personal space so my student teacher feels he has a place in the classroom. Finally, because our school uses a project based learning approach to instruction, I will be sure to provide him with some background information about our teaching philosophy.

CL: I think that providing the student teacher a place in the classroom is important. They need to feel like they are a part of the class and the school. I want to do anything I can to ensure that they don’t feel like an itinerant teacher or a substitute. They need personal space for their own stuff as well as a place to keep student work, materials for upcoming classes, and simply a place to work while they are on campus. Next, I want to introduce my student teacher to the culture of the school and the wide range of students who will be in their classes. I think it is important to tell the student teacher about the student population. Yes, they can gather much of the demographic information from public records and the school website but it is hard to know about the various schools that our students come from. The student teacher needs to know how their class will fit in the students’ overall science experience, the content that the students have covered in their prior classes or schools, and the variety of neighborhoods and cultural groups that the students come from. I also want to give them an overview of the extra-curricular activities that their students might be involved in and any school traditions such as class spirit competitions, homecoming activities, or pep rallies that form the foundations of the fall term. In short, I want them to have a good grasp of their students’ out-of-class experiences. I want to encourage them to participate in some of these activities while maintaining their professional image and stance for students. Specifically, what are the expectations for faculty participation in the culture of the school and how should they balance that with their growing instructional obligations. Finally, I want to give them an overview of the curriculum for the year and a detailed but not overwhelming explanation of the first unit of instruction. This will provide context to their early observations in the classroom and give some structure to their developing roles as a new teacher.

YK: I agree with everything that has been mentioned so far. In addition, I want to spend some time thinking about how I will introduce my student teacher to the students, parents, and other teachers in my department. For many student teachers, this will be one of their first experiences talking to “large” groups of people. Achieving confidence when talking about themselves and what they bring to the class and to teaching can go a long way in establishing their persona for the rest of the year.

It is clear that these young professionals have learned from their recent experiences as new teachers. Their ideas about preparing to host a student teacher speak powerfully of the things that their mentor teachers did for them and suggest things that they feel might have helped them on their journeys into teaching. All of these new teachers recognized the importance of understanding the curriculum that they are expected to teach but even more clear are their thoughts about the importance of becoming part of the school culture, of developing relationships with their students, and transitioning from their roles as students to their new roles as professional educators. As a teacher educator, the biggest challenge I face is facilitating student teachers’ growth in these non-curricular areas. Facility with the content is not nearly as big an issue as understanding what it means to be a teacher. For many, this is their first real professional job. It is a time when they should stop asking someone else “how much, how many, or how often” and instead begin to ask themselves “what just happened, why did it happen that way, and how can I change this outcome?”

As you prepare to host a student teacher, whether it is your first or your twentieth, consider ways to introduce these new teachers to the whole profession of teaching, not simply the act of conveying and assessing information.

Megan McKenzie teaches 9th grade biology in a charter school focused on project based learning; Corey Lee teaches AP Chemistry and Biotechnology in Northern California; Yukako Kawakatsu teaches environmental science and chemistry in a high school in Southern California; Rick Pomeroy is a lecturer at UC Davis School of Education and CSTA’s past president. All four are members of CSTA.

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.

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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 zi@cascience.org.)

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.

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Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

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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: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

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.