May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Welcome Back!

Posted: Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

by Laura Henriques

I love the start of a new school year! While I have yet to start a year without wishing for just one more week before school starts, I am always eager to get back into the classroom to be with the students. I’ve worked in elementary, middle, secondary and post-secondary classrooms and it’s the kids that keep me going. They challenge me to be a better teacher and a better person as I endeavor to help them develop into the best versions of themselves. What a great responsibility and awesome opportunity we have each year! The work we do, day after day, enables students to learn and grow. Parents send us their children, trusting that we are going to do what we can to help them blossom into productive, kind, learned people. We are privileged to play a role in this process.

I recently read a children’s book called The Three Questions (by Jon J. Muth, based on a short story by Tolstoy). The protagonist in the book asks three questions: When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? The answers to those questions serve as a gentle reminder to us as we step back into the classroom.

When is the best time to do things?

There is only one important time, and that time is now.

The time we spend with our students is our most important time. We need to be sure that when we enter the classroom we have done all we can to ensure that it is quality time. We need to be well planned, create meaningful learning experiences that engage our learners, and take into account what we know excellent teaching and learning looks like. Each day we have with them matters. In spite of what it feels like in September, our time with students is very limited. We need to prioritize our learning goals, ensure that our time is efficiently and meaningfully used, and that the learning opportunities are maximized.

Who is the most important one?

The most important one is always the one you are with.

The reason we do what we do day after day, year after year, is the kids. While many of them already think that they are the center of the universe, when they are in our classrooms they should at least be the center of our universe. We need to give them our undivided attention and make sure that they know we are committed partners to their success. We must be sure that the units and lessons we teach are created with them in mind. Lessons need to be developmentally appropriate, student centered, allow for differentiation (we all know that a class is filled with students of varying abilities and backgrounds), and be engaging. This is a tall order to fill, but it is what we are charged to do as professionals.

What is the right thing to do?

The most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side.

The most important thing we do is to help our students on their journey from child to adult. As they learn science content, scientific and engineering skills, and develop a sense of awe about the world around them, students are also learning how to learn. Empowering a student to be an independent learner, a critical thinker, a critical consumer of information is heady stuff. When a child (no matter what their age) leaves our room with these skills, we have provided them with tools that last a lifetime.

As you step back into the classroom this fall I encourage you to keep the story’s three questions and answers in mind. Make the brief time you have with your students – one year from their entire life – make that time important. Make the students with whom you work feel worthy and respected. Make what you do with them something worth doing.

On behalf of all the kids you’ll teach this year (most of who won’t think to tell you), thank you! Thanks for the time you take to grow as a professional, the effort you give to creating valuable learning opportunities, and the time you sacrifice away from family and loved ones to make learning and growth happen in your classroom. Have a great year.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and a past-president of CSTA.

One Response

  1. Thanks, Laura, for reminding us of what is important as we get wrapped up in the day to day chaos that is the start of school. I look forward to reading your column as the new CSTA President. Thank you for your vision and leadership.

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LATEST POST

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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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.

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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.

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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.