red Supported Site Towson University (Secondary): Induction & Mentoring

Successes

  • All Towson PhysTEC graduates have been successful in gaining employment in local high schools. These graduates may be able to host or mentor student teachers in the future.
  • The project team was successful in generating student interest and membership in national and local science education organizations.
  • Faculty and TIR relationships with PhysTEC graduates (and their schools) continue to be positive.

Challenges

  • It is important to identify students early in the program (i.e., before student teaching) who may not be a good fit for the program and provide these students with other career options. The STEP 1 and 2 courses have begun to provide this mechanism.
  • The local chapter of the AAPT has an outdated website; in addition, the site does not clearly communicate information about local conferences (sessions, etc.). Consequently, our secondary education students have not interacted with the chapter.
  • Despite our efforts at mentoring, two PhysTEC future teachers chose to leave the program. Various personal and professional issues entered into their decisions.
  • Given the geographic distance between TU and the schools in which our graduates found work, site visits have been minimal.
  • Mentor teachers are not recruited by PhysTEC faculty, but by Towson's Center for Professional Practice. Consequently, the teaching and mentoring philosophies of some mentor teachers have not been ideal.

Sustainability

  • TIR and faculty support of recent graduates will continue through email, internet, and personal communication.
  • The project team continues to encourage our PhysTEC teachers and future teachers to join science education organizations and participate in conferences, which should result in increased retention and job satisfaction.

Lessons Learned

  • Mentoring and induction practices established by other PhysTEC sites have proven to be useful in developing our own practices. The following practices were adapted from other sites by our first-year TIR: (1) helping the new teacher become familiar with the organizational tree of their high school and Office of Science, and (2) helping the new teacher determine the wide range of available instructional materials.
  • Facebook is an effective means for maintaining contact with and disseminating information to PhysTEC future teachers and graduates.
  • Mentoring can be negatively impacted by the physical distance of the mentee from the university. One PhysTEC graduate received a teaching position at a school a few miles from TU, which will make ongoing mentoring more accessible.
  • Some future teachers and PhysTEC graduates are more open to being mentored than others.

Activities

  • A PhysTEC future teacher spearheaded the formation of the TU student chapter of the National Science Teachers Association and serves as president. The NSTA student chapter will also work with the Maryland Association of Science Teachers (MAST).
  • All three years of the project, TIRs and future teachers attended the MAST conference to make presentations to area high school teachers.
  • In the third year, two PhysTEC future teachers attended the AAPT conference in Philadelphia.
  • Ron Hermann visited with PhysTEC graduates at their school sites and one graduate visited his home.
  • The TIR created and distributed a resource binder to four PhysTEC future teachers. The binder included sections on favorite laboratory activities, making physics relevant, physics is "phun", and teaching and motivational strategies.
  • The project team maintained regular communication with recent PhysTEC graduates who were in their first few years of full-time teaching.
  • Four Towson graduates, including one PhysTEC graduate, were invited back to campus and spoke to current students about their experiences as first-year teachers.