red Supported Site University of Colorado at Boulder: Early Teaching Experience

Successes

  • The LA experience is an early teaching experience – LAs work with introductory physics students in small group settings. Approximately 15% of participating students to consider teaching as a possible career option. Through this method, 10 physics/astrophysics majors have decided to become K12 teachers over the duration of the Colorado PhysTEC project.
  • Four students from Teaching and Learning Physics taught in tutorials. Two followed up and taught the next semester as well.
  • Four physics/astrophysics majors (former LAs) have completed certification programs, and six are currently finishing the undergraduate secondary science certification program.
  • Eight Learning Assistants designed and implemented lessons for high school students attending a physics field trip on the CU campus.
  • Each of the 10 PhysTEC future teachers who are currently in a certification program or have recently completed a certification program engaged in practicum experiences at least once as part of their certification program.

Challenges

  • Transportation/logistics for short term experiences.
  • More focused attention needs to be placed on the early K12 field experiences.
  • Need meetings during and after the early field experiences.
  • Like mentoring for our PhysTEC teachers, the early K12 field experiences part of our program is underdeveloped.
  • Great difference in the quality of induction programs at various school districts
  • Some high needs school districts found to be too emotionally challenging for new teachers who were not prepared directly through the CU PhysTEC program (but were mentored by the TIR).
  • 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.

Sustainability/Institutional Buy-In

  • A post-doctoral position was created to focus on outreach efforts.
  • If we receive NMSI funding, early K12 field experiences will be developed into a more structured and integrated effort through work of master teachers.

Lessons Learned

  • Early K12 field experiences need to be formalized, structured, and integrated into the program. Without this level of integration and structure, students could be discouraged rather than encouraged from becoming teachers. One person needs to take this on as a major part of his or her position.

Activity Summary

  • The LA experience is an early teaching experience – LAs work with introductory physics students in small group settings. Approximately 18 LAs are hired each semester to run learning teams in the physics department and 6-10 LAs are hired each semester to run learning teams in the astronomy department.
  • Each of the 10 PhysTEC future teachers who are currently in a certification program, or have recently completed a certification program, engaged in practicum experiences throughout their certification programs ranging from 97 to 337 contact hours in the K12 schools. Their experiences ranged from observing teaching to preparing and implementing their own inquiry-based lessons with pre/post assessments.