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.
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.
Posted: Monday, March 27th, 2017
The California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) stands with our science and science education colleagues in endorsing the March For Science and its associated activities.
The decision by the CSTA Board of Directors to support the March for Science was based on the understanding that this is an opportunity to advocate for our mission of high quality science education for all and to advance the idea that science has application to everyday life, is a vehicle for lifelong learning, and the scientific enterprise expands our knowledge of the world around us. The principles and goals of the March for Science parallel those of CSTA to assume a leadership role in solidarity with our colleagues in science and science education and create an understanding of the value of science in the greater community. CSTA believes that the integrity of the nature of science and that the work of scientists and science educators should be valued and supported. We encourage your participation to stand with us.
There are over 30 satellite marches planned for the April 22, 2017 March for Science in California (to find a march near you, click on “marches” in the upper right of the main page, select “satellite marches” and use the search feature). We encourage members who participate in the March for Science to share their involvement and promotion of science and science education. Feel free to promote CSTA on your signs and banners. For those on social media, you may share your involvement via Twitter, @cascience and our Facebook groups.
Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.
For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.
The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Marian Murphy-Shaw
If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see www.explorit.org. Learn More…