red Supported Site Boston University: Teacher-In-Residence

We continued to utilize the TIR to advance the major goals of the project. Specifically, we want the TIR to:

1. Assist in the recruitment of new undergraduate physics majors to teaching;

2. Support the shift in culture within the Department of Physics by supporting physics majors interested in teaching;

3. Assist in the transformation of physics courses by working with physics Teaching Assistants and advising on the pedagogy for our pilot studio course;

4. Assist in the pedagogy course for LAs offered by the School of Education; and,

5. Mentor students engaged in pre-practicums in physics teaching.

Successes

  • The TIR met with all freshmen and sophomore undergraduate physics majors to encourage them to take advantage of early teaching opportunities such as the LA experience [item 1, above].
  • The TIR met with the Photon group (BU SPS chapter) sharing with them the PhysTEC video on teaching careers and engaging them in dialog about high school physics teaching [1].
  • The TIR took seven BU freshman and sophomore physics majors to help facilitate the NE Physics Olympic competition in Spring 2014, and six in Spring 2013 [1].
  • We strengthened our connections with local physics teachers, by holding five on-campus meetings for teachers (Boston University Physics Teacher Network, BU-PTN). Physics teachers from over 30 different school districts participated in these physics teacher networking meetings. Teachers as far as West Springfield in western Massachusetts attended and 28 different teachers from Boston public schools attended [1].
  • We currently have two undergraduate physics majors committed to becoming high school physics teachers and five incoming MAT student committed to becoming high school physics teachers [1].
  • The TIR presented a proposal for a new BU physics major educator track. The physics department voted during their December 2013 faculty meeting to approve this new physics major track [2].
  • Physics professors from the BU physics department were invited to present a mini seminar to the BU-PTN participants (we had two such mini seminars one led by a BU physics department professor and one led by an Astrophysics department professor) [2].
  • The TIR was integrated into the introductory physics course for non-majors via planning meetings, curriculum development, modeling instruction and occasional co-teaching of the studio sections [3].
  • The TIR was a supporting instructor in both the School of Education pedagogy course for Learning Assistants and in the Pre-practicum course [4 & 5].
  • The TIR was instructor of record for the School of Education science methods course that paralleled the student teacher practicum for MAT students.
  • The TIR increased the awareness of the BU Physics PhysTEC program in the Greater Boston area through announcements and discussions at the following conferences/meetings: Massachusetts Association of Science Teachers (MAST); the New England Section of the AAPT; and the North Shore Science Supervisors Association (NSSSA).
  • The TIR increased the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) awareness of the BU PhysTEC program and in particular the BU PhysTEC outreach program by sharing information with the Director of the MA DESE Office of Science and Engineering/Technology.
  • Our first TIR created a BU PhysTEC web site: http://physics.bu.edu/sites/phystec/

Challenges

  • It continues to be a challenge to offer interested physics undergraduate majors in the research and interdisciplinary track a doable pathway for initial teacher certification that will allow them to complete their physics major in 4 years.
  • It is sometimes difficult to keep track of all the initiatives being proposed by various faculty and committees from SED and CAS (including within the BU physics department) that intersect with the BU PhysTEC goals and objectives. This poses the challenge of potential missed opportunities to promote the PhysTEC team objectives and to influence the direction of some of these proposals.
  • It continues to be somewhat problematic to find a mechanism to engage physics graduate students with the prospect that high school physics teaching is one of many viable career options.

Sustainability

  • Support is in place from the Provost, the School of Education, and the Department of Physics to fund the TIR position for 3 years after the end of the PhysTEC grant.
  • The MOU includes many activities to ensure the TIR is incorporated into the fabric of the Physics department.

Lessons Learned

  • The PI and the TIR continue to maintain nearly daily communication and that needs to continue.
  • The TIR continues to be self-motivated and willing to initiate and implement ideas in support of the PhysTEC goals and that needs to continue.
  • The TIR continues to reach out and work cooperatively with ALL members of the PhysTEC team and that needs to continue.

List of TIRs over the Project

  • [2011-12]: Juliet Jenkins, 8 years of classroom experience at Newton South High School. Currently teaching physics at Belmont High School.
  • [2012-14]: Mark Greenman, Presidential Award winner and recipient of the 2012 Zitzewitz Award for Excellence in Pre-College Teaching (an AAPT award), with over 30 years of experience as a classroom teacher and administrator in the Marblehead Public Schools.

Finding and Hiring a TIR

  • Our current TIR is continuing with us for 2014-15.

Typical TIR Activities

  • Plan and attend courses at SED - STEM Education for Learning Assistants, Science Methods course and Pre-practicum for STEM majors - 5 hours/week.
  • Participate and respond to Introductory Physics course planning meetings - typically 1-2 meetings/week.
  • Plan and attend/participate in studio algebra-based physics course - 1-3 hours/week.
  • Engage physics majors especially in their freshman and sophomore physics courses to introduce these physics majors to the PhysTEC project and opportunities to engage in early teaching experiences - 10 classes/semester with follow-up outreach and recruitment.
  • Plan and facilitate BU-PTN bi-month meetings.
  • Plan and participate in events such as Faculty teaching lunches.
  • Collaborate and communicate with LA undergraduates - fall and spring information sessions; attending LA SED classes; attending LA/TF (Teaching Fellow) planning meetings, etc.