Sunday, March 29, 2015

Re-Evaluating the Situation

Well, This week I had my last full-class-period observation by an administrator as part of my teacher evaluation. Since my teaching goals this year related to AP Computer Science, that was the class in which I was observed. It went great. I had a good time, the kids got to do an activity that hopefully gave them better insight into the topic at hand (sorting algorithms) and the administrator posted encouraging comments. Sorting (and searching) is the last topic left to cover before the national exam. We have a mock AP exam April 24 that is their actual final exam in the class. That's right, the final exam in APCS is 4 weeks away. The national exam is 2 weeks after that. (Since the score for that exam doesn't arrive until July, it cannot be included in the student's course grade). Holy Smokes! The end is in sight.
A couple weeks ago my principal came to my classroom and showed me an advertisement for an astronomy teacher position at Pine View. He wanted me to read it and see if there was anything they might have overlooked. I couldn't find anything. It was pretty thorough. He said they were going to advertise in some national journals and astronomy organizations for my replacement, since astronomy teachers are hard to find. They are hard to find, in part, because there are very few positions for them. According to Larry Krumenaker, the editor of The Classroom Astronomer, a magazine for K-12 astronomy educators, fewer than 5% of high schools offer any astronomy course. My situation is exacerbated by the fact that I teach astronomy with a dual enrollment option, so students can get college credit. That requires an advanced degree in astronomy. Most of the few high school astronomy teachers have degrees in some other field and even fewer have an advanced degree in the field. I am a little concerned that the program I have built at Pine View might not endure for long. It is out of my hands, but it concerns me nevertheless.
In other news, the Pine View History Club is sponsoring a school wide simulation on the Renaissance April 7. They sought teachers to portray significant individuals and I chose Galileo Galilei. I have a week or so to work on it. Should be fun. I'll post a report after the event.
This past Thursday, I had my astronomy classes meet in Starlab. Now, my wife, Bonnie, often asks me how my day was and whenever I say we had Starlab that day, she knows it was a good day. I can't help myself. Sitting in the dome under the stars, listening to great music, learning about the sky, is a great way to spend a period. It is definitely one of the aspects of my job I will miss. There are only 2 more Starlab days left.

The big announcement I have will come in 2 weeks. Really. Stay tuned.

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