May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

What’s Next?

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.

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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.

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Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis and is a past-president of CSTA.

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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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. Learn More…

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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.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

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.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

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.