January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

The Benefits of Mentoring (for New Teachers and Veterans)

Posted: Monday, December 3rd, 2012

by Amanda L. Smith

Pairing an experienced teacher with a new teacher can be a great way to boost a new teacher’s confidence and provides multiple levels of support including content guidance, classroom management assistance, and many others. The first few years of teaching are potentially stressful but with the support of veteran teachers and a good mentoring program, they can be successful and rewarding. Even if you’ve already completed your Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program (BTSA), or you are a veteran teacher who has recently changed schools, you can still benefit from learning from other teachers at your school.

Your school may or may not have a formal mentoring program, but you should never hesitate to ask for help from someone in your grade level, department, or subject area. When I stepped into a classroom nine years ago I felt lost and confused, like I was climbing a mountain uphill in the snow every day. I often came home frustrated, and wished I had a friend or colleague to talk to about my grueling workdays. Once I was assigned a BTSA mentor teacher, things became much easier. I not only had someone to talk to, but I was able to run ideas past her and ask for guidance with lesson plans, classroom management, and dealing with parents. I soon earned my Clear Credential, and taught successfully for a handful of years. I also found having a mentor teacher meant I could ask them to come and observe me teach a lesson, and ask for feedback even if they weren’t in my own subject area. It was a great way to engage in conversations about important topics such as effective instruction strategies, gain trusted advice regarding tough situations with individual students, and how to successfully approach difficult parent situations.

Several years later, though, I moved to a different school and I felt like a first year teacher all over again. Changing schools was a drastic switch, as I went from public high school teaching Honors Biology and LEP Life Science, to a private middle school/high school teaching half day 9-12th grade Earth Science and Anatomy/Physiology, and half day teaching 6th and 8th grade Earth Science and Physical Science. In addition, the student population was very different than at my previous school. My new school was very small and I was the only science teacher, so I was hesitant to ask for help at first. However, I eventually reached out and was able to collaborate with other teachers in my grade level, and the English teacher and Math teacher were very helpful. In retrospect I realize it was still tremendously beneficial to talk to other veteran teachers even though they weren’t science teachers.

I have been in the classroom for nine years, but there are still many times when I ask for advice from my grade level team. As a mentor teacher for the new middle school teachers coming into my charter school, I have seen both sides of the process, and can tell you first-hand that it works! Asking for help or mentoring will allow you to make stronger connections with your colleagues as well as your students.

Written by Amanda Smith

Amanda Smith is a science teacher at Wilder’s Preparatory Academy Charter School and a member of CSTA.

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STEM Conference Hosted by CMSESMC

Posted: Saturday, January 14th, 2017

The Council of Math/Science Educators of San Mateo County will be hosting the 41st annual STEM Conference this February 4, 2017 at the San Mateo County Office of Education. This STEM Conference is the place to get lots of new lessons and ideas to use in your classroom. There will be over twenty-five workshops and a variety of exhibitors that provide participants with a wide range of practical and realistic ideas and resources to use in their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs from Pre-K to grade 12. With California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, we are dedicated to ensuring that we prepare our teachers to take on these educational policies.

Teachers, administrators and parents are invited to explore the many exciting aspects of STEM education and learn about and discuss the latest news, information and issues. This is also an opportunity to network with colleagues who can assist you in building your programs and meet new friends that share your interests and love of teaching.

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.

Opportunities to Support NGSS Implementation with CTC

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

What follows are several opportunities for science teachers to work with the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) on various projects that have direct or indirect implications for the implementation of NGSS in California. Please consider applying to one or more of the following opportunities.

CSET Field Testing Opportunities

Field testing opportunities for future CSET Multiple Subjects and Science tests are available beginning Dec. 5, 2016. Participants will have the choice between a $50 Barnes and Noble eGift Card or a $75 test fee voucher that may be applied to future test registration fees. For more information, including how to register to participate, please visit: http://www.pearsonvue.com/espilot/cset.asp. 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.

Submit Your NGSS Lessons and Units Today!

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

Achieve has launched and is facilitating an EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science–a group of expert reviewers who will evaluate the quality and alignment of lessons and units to the standards–in an effort to identify and shine a spotlight on emerging high-quality lesson and unit plans designed for the NGSS.

If you or your state, district, school, or organization has designed NGSS-aligned instructional materials, please consider submitting these in order to help provide educators across the country with various models and templates of high-quality lesson and unit plans. 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.

Opportunity for High School Students – Los Angeles County

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

An upcoming Perry Outreach Program on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles, CA. The Perry Outreach Program is a free, one-day, hands-on experience for high school and college-aged women who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine and engineering. Students will hear from women leaders in these fields and try it for themselves by performing mock orthopaedic surgeries and biomechanics experiments. 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.

Science Education Policy Update

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

January 2017 has proven to be a very busy month for science education policy and CA NGSS implementation activities. CSTA has been and will be there every step of the way, seeking and enacting all options to support high-quality science education and the successful implementation of CA NGSS.

California Department of Education/U.S. Department of Education Science Double-Testing Waiver Hearing

The year started with California Department of Education’s (CDE) hearing with the U.S. Department of Education conducted via WebEx on January 6, 2017. This hearing was the final step in California’s efforts to secure a waiver from the federal government in order to discontinue administration of the old CST and suspension of the reporting of student test scores on a science assessment for two years. As reported by EdSource, the U.S. Department of Education representative, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary John King Jr., committed to making her final ruling “very shortly.” Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley presented on behalf of CDE during the hearing and did an excellent job describing the broad-based support for this waiver in California, the rationale for the waiver, and California’s commitment to the successful implementation of a new high-quality science assessment. As previously reported, California is moving forward with its plans to administer a census pilot assessments this spring. The testing window is set to open on March 20, 2017. For more information visit New CA Science Test: What You Should Know.

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.