July/August 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 8

So How Is That Science Teaching Job Working Out for You?

Posted: Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

by Lisa Hegdahl

You made it! You dreamed about it all through student teaching – the chance to have your very own classroom. You have set it up just the way you want, you have put together a strong classroom management plan, and you have designed fabulous, creative lessons. It is smooth sailing from here on out…right?

Well, just in case your teaching career is not going quite as effortlessly as you had imagined, you are in good company. Many new teachers find that the realities of a full time teaching job can be even more difficult than their time spent student teaching. However, with a little patience and support you can be on your way to a successful and enjoyable school year. The following are some ideas to help you get there:

Create a Support-System and Use It

In my 16 years as a BTSA (Beginning Teacher Support & Assessment) support provider, I have worked with two kinds of new teachers – those who ask for help and those who do not. The ones who ultimately have the most difficult first year are those who do not ask. What new teachers do not seem to realize is that, although they are hesitant to communicate to their bosses and fellow teachers that they do not know everything, no boss or veteran teacher expects them to know everything. In fact, most seasoned teachers will tell them that collaborating with colleagues about best practices helps both parties become better teachers. Lauren Fromm, 2nd year teacher at Bear Creek High School at Lodi Unified points out that even though she feels like she is somehow “being a pain” when she asks for help, everyone she has talked to is more than willing to lend a hand. Asking for help can save you precious time and “brain power,” which are often in limited supply for new instructors.

You have probably already spent sometime with your fellow science department or grade level teachers. These people are essential in helping you decide what curriculum to teach and how to teach it. They can inform you about the availability of equipment, consumables, technology, and textbooks. And while teacher colleagues are vital resources, there are other staff members who can make the time in your new job easier if you give them the opportunity to do so. Cultivate genuine relationships with school secretaries and custodians. These behind the scenes employees are invaluable assets when it comes to helping you submit paper work, arrange for substitutes, repair equipment, and make schedule changes.

Make the Most of BTSA

All first and second year teachers in California are required to complete an induction program. Most will complete BTSA. Ideally the emphasis is on support and you have been assigned to a provider who is willing to give you the time and care you need to thrive during your first (and second) year. The most effective support providers know when to move you forward with the actual BTSA content and when to back off and just let you talk about the issues with which you are currently dealing. Lauren Fromm says she focuses on the positive aspects of the program, for example, one of the Benchmarks requires that she write a little something about each student. This makes her think about what she knows about their interests, strengths, and weaknesses and has led her to realize that she needs to make more of an effort to talk to her students. It should be helpful to know that the people who run the BTSA programs across the state want you to be successful. My experience is that BSTA staff will move mountains to help new teachers finish the program successfully.

Get Connected

Sometimes e-mail is sent to every employee in the school district – except you. Do you even realize that you are not receiving e-mails? More than likely this is occurring because you have not been added to group e-mail folders.   Michel Perez, first year teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District realized that she was not in the e-mail loop when a fellow teacher mentioned to her that she needed a document turned into her principal by the next day. Michel had no idea what the colleague was referring to. Be proactive. If you have a BTSA support provider or other mentor, ask them to contact the necessary people to help you get connected. If that is not possible, ask your department or grade level chair to notify the appropriate people for you. Going directly to the school secretaries or administration and asking them to place you in group e-mail folders is also an option as is asking them to contact district personnel to correct the situation. Meanwhile, request that another teacher forward to you any pertinent correspondences until the issue is resolved.

Time for a Break

Take a break? You can’t possibly take a break! You have five different science classes to prep, a staff meeting after school, and BTSA paperwork to finish. Rick Pomeroy, Supervisor of the Science Credential Program at the University of California at Davis says that “being expected to do way more things than their schedules have time for” often frustrates new teachers   But, as busy as you are you must find some time for yourself. Even though you have responsibilities to your employer, students, and family, none of them wants you become mentally and physically exhausted. You know deep down that the time you take to turn your brain off of work will pay off in much more productive time afterwards. Brooke Beckett of Galt High School in the Galt High School District encourages new teachers to plan time for themselves to do something fun. She says, “The first year is the hardest and you don’t want to burn out.”

Even though your first year of teaching may be a challenge, in no time you will find yourself facing your second year – more knowledgeable, more confident, and more relaxed. You will always remember your first year in the teaching profession and I hope the memories are good ones.

Thank you to Brooke Beckett – Computer Applications, Principles of Engineering, Digital and Video Production, General Science, and Physics at Galt High School in the Galt High School District, Lauren Fromm – College Prep. and AP Biology, Bear Creek High School in the Lodi Unified School District, Michel Perez – 7th Grade Science at McCaffrey Middle School in the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District, Rick Pomeroy – Science Credential Program School of Education at University of California, Davis. Your contributions are greatly appreciated.

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Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th-grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is Past-President of CSTA.

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CTC Seeking Educators for Science Standard Setting Conference

Posted: Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and Evaluation Systems group of Pearson are currently seeking California science educators to participate in a Science Standard Setting Conference for the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) program. Each standard setting panel is scheduled to meet for one-day, in Sacramento, California. The fields and dates are listed below:

Multiple Subjects Subtest II (Science), Monday, October 2, 2017
Science Subtest II: Physics, Monday, October 2, 2017
Science Subtest II: Chemistry, Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Science Subtest II: Life Sciences, Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Science Subtest II: Earth and Space Sciences, Thursday, October 5, 2017
Science Subtest I: General Science, Friday, October 6, 2017

The purpose of the conference is for panel members to make recommendations that will be used, in part, by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) in setting the passing standard, for each field, in support of the updated California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET).

Click here to nominate educators. If you are interested in participating yourself, complete an application here for consideration.


Public school educators who are:

• Certified in California
• Currently practicing (or have practiced within the last school year) in one or more of the fields listed above. 

College faculty who are:

• Teacher preparation personnel (including education faculty and arts and sciences faculty)
• Practicing (or have practiced within the last school year) in one or more of the fields listed above, and
• Preparing teacher candidates in an approved California teacher preparation program.

 Benefits of Participation Include:
• Receive substitute reimbursement for their school (public school educators only),
• Have the opportunity to make a difference in California teacher development and performance,
• Have the opportunity for professional growth and collaboration with educators in their field,
• Be reimbursed for their travel and meal expenses, and
• Be provided with hotel accommodations, if necessary.

For more information, visit their website at www.carecruit.nesinc.com/cset/index.asp

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 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. 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.

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.