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.
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…