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: 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…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Joseph Calmer
Probably like you, NGSS has been at the forefront of many department meetings, lunch conversations, and solitary lesson planning sessions. Despite reading the original NRC Framework, the Ca Draft Frameworks, and many CSTA writings, I am still left with the question: “what does it actually mean for my classroom?”
I had an eye-opening experience that helped me with that question. It came out of a conversation that I had with a student teacher. It turns out that I’ve found the secret to learning how to teach with NGSS: I need to engage in dialogue about teaching with novice teachers. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching science in some capacity for 12 years. During that time pedagogy and student learning become sort of a “hidden curriculum.” It is difficult to plan a lesson for the hidden curriculum; the best way is to just have two or more professionals talk and see what emerges. I was surprised it took me so long to realize this epiphany. Learn More…