Posted: Tuesday, January 6th, 2015
by Rick Pomeroy
The winter break is over, your first and possibly only semester of student teaching is drawing to a close, and you are beginning to think about that big elephant in the room. Will there be a job at the end of all this work? If the number of phone calls I have received in the past week is any indication of the need for science teachers, the answer is “Yes, Virginia, there will be jobs.”
As you move forward into the spring, thoughts will logically turn to the job search and all of the questions, and decisions that you will be making about your future. Every year I coach my students through this phase of the process with some simple, and seemingly successful, advice.
First – remember that every day is a job interview. The teaching community is extensive but ultimately everybody knows somebody, and you never know when that somebody is looking for a science teacher. If you approach your planning and teaching each day as if someone is watching with the intent of hiring you, you will pay a little closer attention to details, focus on knowing what your students are learning, and you will be able to clearly explain your reasons and methods for the lessons you are teaching.
Second – make yourself as marketable as possible. Consider adding a second science subject authorization to your credential. Make sure that it is a subject that you like and would be willing to teach because remember that if it is on your credential, you could very easily be asked to teach that subject as your whole assignment. Many combination jobs will be listed during the spring and you will have a wider selection if you can teach multiple science areas. Personally, I am not a fan of adding a different subject credential simply to increase marketability. I highly encourage you to focus on science and make yourself as marketable there as possible.
Third – do your research about potential job locations. By the time you have earned your credential, you will have completed your performance assessment (PACT, edTPA, TPA, etc.) Part of that process included a deep and thoughtful look at your community, school, and students. Do the same when looking for that first job. Use the skills you have acquired to match your interests, philosophies, and desires with the students you will be teaching. Don’t pursue a job just because it is convenient if it is not where or who you want to teach. You want to be happy and fulfilled in your first years of teaching and that won’t be the case if you are not happy with where you are teaching. If you have no desire to teach in a district or community, don’t apply there. This is a stressful time of year for school districts trying to fill their anticipated vacancies, and they want to focus their search on people who genuinely want to teach in their districts; they don’t need to spend time reviewing your application if there is no chance you will even accept an invitation to interview. You don’t want to leave a bad impression by turning down an interview if you had no intention of teaching there because the education community is very connected so it might come back to haunt you later.
Be prepared when a district contacts you for an interview. You should have a bit of background knowledge about the school and community. When an applicant interviews, it is obvious if they are genuinely interested in being part of that school community or if instead, they are entirely focused on the job. Visit the school’s websites to learn a little bit about their culture, the classes they offer, their athletics and student cultural events, etc. If you have time, visit the community where the school is located before the day of the interview to get a feel for the area.
Finally, I have three pieces of advice that I will repeat many, many times this year:
1. Your first two to three years on the job are an intense learning experience. You have just completed a short, introductory process that has prepared you to enter the classroom. Every teacher will tell you that your “learning to teach” phase has just begun. Over the next several years you will grow exponentially in your ability to juggle all of the tasks and responsibilities associated with being a teacher. Stay the course through the turbulent times, and teaching will become more natural as you grow as a professional.
2. The first job you take will not necessarily be the last job you will have. Your personal circumstances will change over the course of your teaching career. Though it is not a good employee characteristic to change jobs every year, you should not be afraid to relocate or change positions when your life situation changes.
3. It is easier to get a job when you have a job. Right now, if you are the typical credential student, you are paying to attend school and earning little or no money. Under these circumstances, almost any job offer looks attractive. Avoid the tendency to take the first job offered simply to get a job if you have followed all of the suggestions at the beginning of this article. No administrator wants to hire an unhappy new teacher. The fit between you and the job is critical for your first year success.
The next few months may seem like a roller coaster ride for you and the schools looking for new teachers. In the end, your goal is to be the best teacher you can be, serving the learning needs of the students and children in California. Go boldly into this next phase of your career. I wish you all the good fortune of finding a great first year teaching position.
Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
by Jessica Sawko
In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.
At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award
The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…