Supported Site University of Colorado at Boulder: Induction & Mentoring

Successes

  • The TIRs mentored students, providing guidance and feedback on materials and connection with community partners in many early field experiences for learning assistants, including hosting field trips, tutoring, and summer camps programs.

Challenges

  • PhysTEC Teachers are being encouraged to enter the Partners in Education (PIE) induction and mentoring masters degree program, but none have done so yet. We will continue to encourage this.
  • Induction and mentoring have not historically been the purview of physics departments, and CU Boulder is no exception. There is no institutional structure or reward for providing induction or mentoring services within the department.

Sustainability/Institutional Buy-In

  • We have been invited to apply for National Mathematics and Science Initiative (NMSI) funds through the UTeach program.

Lessons Learned

  • We need a more focused mentoring program for new teachers.

Activity Summary

  • Each year, the TIR mentors his or her replacement teacher, in weekly visits to classroom and more frequent email and phone conversations.
  • Two physics major PhysTEC Teachers are currently working in teaching positions in high needs schools in Denver. Both of these teachers have been interviewed and observed using the RTOP, by graduate students and faculty members affiliated with the PhysTEC program. Averaged RTOP scores from successive visits were 71 and 61 (that's high!). They are also in contact (receiving informal but frequent) advice from the Teacher-in-Residence and PhysTEC PIs.
  • PhysTEC teachers are invited to attend monthly meetings in which future teachers and current teachers discuss issues about teaching and learning science.
  • PhysTEC Teachers are trying to use best-practices in their schools but are struggling a bit with classroom management issues and with some issues in general technique. PhysTEC Teachers are being encouraged to enter the Partners in Education (PIE) induction and mentoring masters degree program, but none have done so yet. We will continue to encourage this more proactively.
  • Our TIR did not serve the role of mentoring new PhysTEC teachers in formal ways and this is an underdeveloped part of our teacher preparation continuum. In the future, we need to put more emphasis/funds toward a person who focuses on mentoring teachers who are former LAs.
  • We have reason to believe that our education courses that lead to teacher certification are not adequately preparing our PhysTEC students to become inquiry-based teachers. This is the one part of the program that we have not transformed. We hope to transform our certification program through NMSI or other funds in the near future, so that the program is more math- and science- focused.