Master Teachers

A Quiet Revolution in Preparing Future Teachers of Physics

written by Julia Olsen and Drew Isola

We face a crisis in mathematics and science teacher preparation in the United States. This is especially true in regard to physics teachers. As the political uproar has increased, the pressure on institutions of higher learning and on physics departments in particular has become more intense, leaving many to wonder about possible solutions.  How can we, as physicists, take on such an overwhelming task in an area where we have little experience or training?

This article deals with one approach to addressing these issues. The use of exemplary K-12 teachers as agents of change in universities has been quietly making its way into teacher preparation programs around the country over the past decade.  While it is not unheard of for K-12 teachers to work on college campuses as an entry level or temporary instructor, it has rarely been the case that they are sought out specifically for their expertise in the K-12 classroom. However, more and more K-12 teachers are employed to directly apply their classroom wisdom to the many facets of identifying, recruiting and supporting K-12 teachers of physics. In this role, they are commonly called Teachers-in-Residence (TIRs) or Master Teachers (MTs).

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