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.


  • 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 (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 participated in Freshman Friday events in April (for incoming freshmen who are interested in becoming physics majors) [1].
  • The TIR took 6 BU freshman and sophomore physics majors to help facilitate the NE Physics Olympic competition with all of these students subsequently applying to be Learning Assistance for the fall of 2013 [1]
  • We strengthened our connections with local physics teachers, by holding four on-campus meetings for teachers (Boston University Physics Teacher Network, BU-PTN). Physics teachers from 25 different school districts participated in these physics teacher networking meetings. Teachers as far as West Springfield in western Massachusetts attended and 13 different teachers from Boston public schools attended. A total of 65 different physics teachers attended with 6 teachers attending all four meetings, 8 attending 3 meetings, 13 attending 2 meetings and 38 attending 1 meeting. Attendance for the four meetings was 29, 26, 29, and 28 participants [1].
  • We currently have three undergraduate physics majors committed to becoming high school physics teachers, one Engineering student committed to becoming a high school physics teacher, and one incoming MAT student committed to becoming a high school physics teacher [1].
  • The TIR put forth a draft proposal for a new BU physics major educator track. The physics department chair has expressed interest in seeing that this proposal is brought to the physics department faculty for consideration during the upcoming fall [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 faculty and one led by an Astrophysics department faculty) [2].
  • One BU physics graduate student will be working with the TIR during a Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA DESE) sponsored 60-hour professional development institute for improving high school physics teacher content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge [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 School of Education pedagogy course for Learning Assistants and in the Pre-practicum course [4 & 5].
  • 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 DESE awareness of the BU PhysTEC program and in particular the BU PhysTEC outreach program by inviting staff from the MA DESE Office of Science and Engineering/Technology to engage in conversation with the BU-PTN participants during our April meeting.
  • Our first TIR created a BU PhysTEC web site:


  • It continues to be a challenge to offer interested physics undergraduate majors 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.


  • 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.
  • [2012-13]: 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 2013-14.

Typical TIR Activities

  • Plan and attend courses at SED - STEM Education for Learning Assistants and Pre-practicum for STEM majors - 5 hours/week.
  • Participate and respond to Introductory Physics course planning meetings - typically 3-4 meetings/week.
  • Plan and attend/participate in studio algebra-based physics course - 6-8 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 participate in events such as Faculty teaching lunches and Boston University Physics Teacher Network meetings.
  • Collaborate and communicate with LA undergraduates - fall and spring information sessions; attending LA SED classes; attending LA/TF (Teaching Fellow) planning meetings, etc.