Hi! My name is Erin and this is my 11th year teaching science in California. Teaching and creating NGSS aligned content is my passion. Back in October of 2017, I attended the CSTA Conference. I was struck by how many teachers that I spoke with who were designing their own curriculum. Most of us only had material that was not aligned with NGSS standards. That weekend, I also realized the most beneficial part of the entire conference was being able to spend time with science teachers across from the state.
My First Year Teaching
In, 2007 I started teaching as an intern. I spent the previous year substitute teaching, but I’d never been in charge of a classroom for more than a week at at time. I got a teaching position in an urban setting an hour away from home. It was in a city that, at the time, was considered one of the most violent in the country. Two weeks before school started I began my credentialing program. I entered the classroom knowing absolutely nothing about managing a classroom, differentiating instruction or even much about the classes I was teaching. I had a specialized Biology credential, but when I showed up for my job two days before school started, I found out I was teaching Earth Science (which I had never even taken myself) and Chemistry. It was one of the most difficult years of my life, but I somehow made it through.
My Other Teaching Experience
I taught at that school for 3 years, adding Biology, Chemistry and Anatomy to my teaching repertoire. Everything steadily improved. However, the economy started its free fall in late 2009. By March of 2010, my district was laying off hundreds of teachers. Of course, I was one of them. In July, after some of the dust had settled, I was called back to teach at an Independent study/credit recovery program. I spent two years there and learned about alternative education. The job was great but I was very tired of the commute. It was causing me to spend time away from my daughter who was just over a year old at the time. I added a Chemistry authorization to my credential in hopes that it would help me find a job closer to home.
In 2012, I found another position in a tiny district about 20 minutes from home. It was a 7-12 school with only about 400 students. There, I taught 7th grade Life Science, 10th grade biology, and 11/12th grade chemistry in the same classroom. There was nothing but a text book for resources when I arrived. I started slowly writing my curriculum.
Shifting to NGSS
I’d heard about the NGSS standards and knew they were on the horizon. Wanting to make sure that I wasn’t going to have to throw everything out as soon, I started slowly implementing the NGSS standards in my classroom. than the standards themselves there wasn’t much to work with. I made A LOT of mistakes in trying to figure out how to implement them in my classroom, but that experience was invaluable.
Last year, a position opened up in the town where I live. It was a significant pay increase and would mean that I would have the opportunity to be at the same school as my daughter, who is in first grade this year.
My Current Teaching Position
I now work at a k-8 school teaching 7th and 8th grade integrated science. My new district is in the early phases of shifting to the NGSS standards so I am currently writing most of my own curriculum yet again. This is my first full time middle school position, at while the move has been mostly positive, it hasn’t been an entirely smooth transition. It is difficult navigating middle school emotions, new content, and new district policies. Also, I gave up a tenured position for this new job and there is always some degree of stress that goes with that.
My Current Goals
In my 11th year of teaching, I am heading back to school this spring to FINALLY get my Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. At the same time I am working on growing this blog and growing my Teachers Pay Teachers Empire.
Want to Know More about My Teaching Philosophy
Check out the following links:
- Why I Don’t Assign Homework
- Why I Stopped Using PowerPoint In My Classroom
- How I Differentiate my Instruction for Struggling Students
- How I Differentiate My Instruction for High Level Students
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