AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of March 31, 2006
eds. Patricia Knezek, Jim Ulvestad, & Joan Schmelz

This week's issues:

1. Responses to Teaching HS Physics and Math

2. NYC Teaching Fellows Program

3. Reminder: CSWP Sponsored Events in April

4. Program Director Antarctic Aeronomy and Astrophysics Program/South Pole 
   Science Manager

5. How to submit, subscribe, or unsubscribe to AASWOMEN

1. Responses to Teaching HS Physics and Math

[Eds. note:  The items below are responses to an inquiry in the AASWOMEN
Newsletter of March 24, 2006 about the possible pros and cons of switching
from a research career in astronomy to a career teaching physics and math 
at the high school level.]

From: Edna DeVore (edevoreseti.org)

Greetings to Anonymous (Mar. 24)

The American Association of Physics teachers is a wonderful resource for 
mid-career changes to teaching from research. The next national meeting is 
July 22-26 in Syracuse, NY. There are also several regional associations of 
physics teachers that can be found at the AAPT site: www.aapt.org  If you 
make connections to the regional or national membership, you'll likely find 
people who have made this transition. If you would like to communicate with 
me privately, I can put you into touch with a local physics teacher (Bay 
Area, CA) who made the transition from engineering at Lockheed to teaching 
HS physics and never looked back.

Edna DeVore

From: Cindy Taylor (ctaylorlawrenceville.org)


I teach at a private boarding school and I started right after graduate school 
so some of my experiences are not the same as yours.  I do find teaching high 
school rewarding and challenging.  You have a greater impact on the kids lives 
and can encourage more to pursue math and science in college.  I love it when 
some kids email me to say that they're majoring in science in college. 

Because I teach at a private school, I didn't have to go through the 
accrediting process, so I can't speak about that.  Since I came right from 
graduate school, I did go through a bit of wistful longing of "maybe I should 
have done a post-doc and tried finding a faculty job" at times (whenever I saw 
data about the "leaky pipeline" I felt guilty), but now I'm comfortable with 
my decision.   

Have you done any teaching before?  I had done very little in grad school so 
the first couple of years were a bit rough for me.  I would research into what 
kind of mentoring program is there for the new teachers.  I think most 
programs that do the accelerated credentials have mentoring programs.   

Also, teaching involves a lot of work.  Granted I'm at a boarding school so 
I'm expected to also coach two terms and also supervise in the dorms (I now 
live in one of the dorms), so my day ends up being longer than at normal high 
schools.  But even so, the prep time is longer than the general public thinks. 
I remember my father grumbling about the salaries of teachers when they only 
work 9 months of the year.  Last year my parents visited me to help me out 
when my husband was away for a few days and they saw how much I worked 
(granted it was at the most insane time of the year and again, I'm at a 
boarding school so I had more duties than public high schools). 

I know sometimes the AAS meetings coincide with the American Association of 
Physics Teachers, but I would like to see more from the AAS for high school 

If you want to email me, feel free. 

-Cindy Taylor 
Lawrenceville School (in Lawrenceville, NJ) 

From: Lucy McFadden  (lucy.mcfaddenverizon.net)

I have a late 20's aged, beginning graduate student, who had an engineering 
degree, worked as an engineer for a few years and lost his job due to the 
company being bought out. He decided to teach high school science, became 
credentialed, was mentored for it, did it for a few years, and it was the life 
issues that became too much for him. He took a huge pay cut, tutored students 
for SAT's (which pays quite well) as a second job, and is now in graduate 
school in astronomy.

The message is, as long as you don't expect satisfaction from the physics and 
astronomy side of things, and want to help with the life issues and moral 
development side of things, you might find it rewarding.  But then it is like 
dealing with kids at home and at work. No harm in trying it for a couple of 
years.  I thought of doing so too, but learned that it wasn't easy getting a 
job as a High School science teacher in my area.

Have you considered the tutoring route for SAT's. Very lucrative. $40/hr 
around here.

Lucy McFadden

From: Andrea Schweitzer  (schweitzfrii.com)

Re: Teaching HS Physics and Math

I have 3 data points of friends who have done this:
#1 Quit after 1 year, mostly because of discipline problems and lack of 
   support from school administrators and parents.
#2 Quit after 4 or 5 years, mostly because of the long hours.
#3 Been doing it for years and loves it!

What I have learned from them, and from my years on the AAS Employment 

- Find out what it is like teaching in your area.  Volunteer in science 
classrooms or become a substitute teacher first, to get a better idea of the 
environments at different schools.  Volunteering and substituting also 
improves your resume.

- Find out how many different science and math courses you'll have to teach 
simultaneously.  Some science teachers end up teaching many different subjects 
at once which is exhausting.

- The personalities of parents, administrators and school boards can be the 
tipping point for your teaching to be a good or bad experience.  Many schools 
(even those in poverty areas) have supportive administrators and parents.  
Other schools may not mesh with your teaching and discipline style.

- Be realistic about your energy level and how much time it takes to teach.  
Even good teachers can get burned out.  Plan ahead for how you will get 
support, set boundaries and manage your time efficiently.

- Evaluate the pay/hour since you will be working very long hours.

- Read "Teachers Have It Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of 
America's Teachers" (2005) by Dave Eggers, Daniel Moulthrop, Ninive Clements 

- The web has many discussion forums, blogs and other sites written by science 
teachers which can give you additional perspectives and useful resources.  One 
of my favorite career websites hosted by Science 
(sciencecareers.sciencemag.org) currently has featured articles on "Scientists 
as Schoolteachers."  When I went to their career discussion forum and did a 
search on high school teaching I turned up 90+ postings

I hope this is helpful, and best wishes to you.  We need good science 
teachers!  If you do make the career switch, please write back and let us know 
about your experiences.

Regards, Andrea Schweitzer, Ph.D.
Little Thompson Observatory in northern Colorado
(and former chair of the AAS Employment Committee)

From: Jennifer Hoffman (jhoffmanastron.berkeley.edu)

I was interested in the topic of leaving astronomy to teach high school.  
I forwarded the request to a good friend who did this, and he sent me the 
following comments in response:

"Be prepared to get a job for sure (math and science are in demand), but
despite generally rising salaries, working conditions can be hit or miss.
You may teach courses (curricula) you don't like or even fundamentally
disagree with.  With emergency certification, you will be spending long
evenings completing coursework, all while struggling to deal with rookie
teacher issues like class management and paperwork. June will not come
soon enough.  But you may also find some of the most meaningful and
stimulating work in the world.  I've been teaching for 7 years, and look
forward to it every morning.  Good luck!"

2. NYC Teaching Fellows Program
From: WIPHYS of March 29, 2006

[Eds. note:  Deadline is TODAY!]

New York City has created the New York City Teaching Fellows program, which 
seeks future math and science teachers.  This is an alternative certification 
program through the NYC Department of Education which seeks to hire mid-career 
changers and recent college graduates who wish to become full-time teachers in 
the NYC public schools beginning in September 2006.  Key components include: 
full teacher's benefits and salary (starting at $41,172); a subsidized 
Master's degree in Education; intensive pre-service summer training with 
living stipend; and on-going school and district support.  Details at 
www.nycteachingfellows.org or contact Scott Hechinger, Recruiter, NYC Teaching 
Fellows (718) 935-4721 shechingernycboe.net.   Deadline to apply has been 
extended to March 31. 

3. Reminder: CSWP Sponsored Events in April
From: WIPHYS of March 28, 2006

The Committee on the Status of Women in Physics will sponsor or co-sponsor a 
variety of events at the APS April meeting in Dallas, Texas.  All events will 
take place in the Hyatt Regency Hotel.  All are welcome, both men and women.

Sunday, April 23, 2006 
1:15 pm - 3:05 pm, Invited Session J5: "Pioneering Women Astronomers" (with 
the Forum on the History of Physics)

3:15 pm - 5:03 pm, Invited Session L4: "Women in Science Policy" (with the 
Forum on Physics and Society)

Monday, April 24, 2006
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm, CSWP/DPF Networking Luncheon.  Buffet luncheon, and an 
opportunity for networking with colleagues!  Natalie Roe (LBL), Marcela Carena 
(Fermilab) and Ann Heinson (Univ of California Riverside) will offer informal 
remarks.  Cost: $20 ($5 for students, thanks to the generosity of the Division 
of Particles and Fields). Pre-registration is strongly advised as there will 
be only limited space for walk-ins. Register at 
http://www.aps.org/meet/APR06/social.cfm#cswplunch (pdf file). 

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm, CSWP/COM Reception.   Enjoy light fare, relax and network 
with colleagues while you hear about the work of the Committee on the Status 
of Women in Physics and the Committee on Minorities. 

4. Program Director Antarctic Aeronomy and Astrophysics Program/South Pole 
   Science Manager

Program Director Antarctic Aeronomy and Astrophysics Program/South Pole 
   Science Manager
Antarctic Sciences Section
National Science Foundation
Arlington, VA  22230

NSF's Office of Polar Programs (OPP) seeks an outstanding scientist for the 
position of Program Director Antarctic Aeronomy and Astrophysics Program/South 
Polar Science Manager.  The Program Director will lead, develop, and manage a 
world-class, proposal driven research program across a broad range of 
sub-fields of aeronomy and astrophysics. The program provides ~$9.0 million 
annually in direct support of scientific research. The incumbent also serves 
as the South Pole Science Manager at South Pole Station. 

Applicants must have a Ph.D. or equivalent experience in aeronomy, astrophysics
or a related discipline, plus six or more years of research, research 
administration, and/or managerial experience pertinent to the position.

The announcements E20060070 and E20060071-Rotator, which include position 
requirements and application procedures, are posted on NSF's Home Page at 
http://www.nsf.gov/about/career_opps/ . Additional information may also be 
obtained by contacting Yvonne Woodward at (703) 292-4386.  Hearing impaired 
individuals may call TDD (703) 292-8044.  Applications must be received by 


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