Supported Site Seattle Pacific University: Induction & Mentoring

Successes

  • The physics department and the SPU School of Education have been awarded a $15,000 grant from Washington Mutual Bank (now Chase). These funds support a Retention Through Mentorship Program in which first year teachers of science can elect to work with an SPU-appointed mentor during their first year of teaching. These mentors will provide content-specific mentorship and guide the new teachers to focus on student learning during their critical first year.
  • On January 15th of 2009, Eleanor Close and Lezlie DeWater ran a full-day workshop for university coordinators who supervise student teaching in the SPU School of Education. The workshop provided coordinators with an opportunity to explore the RTOP as a mentoring tool.
  • A group of science and education faculty have been awarded a Noyce Planning Grant. The leadership team for the planning grant is committed to make content specific mentorship a focus of the proposed Noyce program.
  • The Science Education Task Force has made a plan to work together to identify and support outstanding supervising teachers for PhysTEC student teachers.

Challenges

  • Our Teacher Advisory Group noted that, as supervising teachers, they have received few resources and little guidance or support from either their district or the student teacher’s education program. (We should note that our TAG members had not yet supervised student teachers from SPU).
  • We are working to identify ways in which the Physics Department, working in partnership with the School of Education (SOE), can better support the critical work done by supervising teachers.
  • We recognize that there is no tuition-driven incentive for teacher preparation programs to support new teachers during their critical first year in the classroom.

Sustainability/Physics Department Buy-In

  • Supplemental funding from the PhysTEC Noyce program will provide resources for mentorship of physics teachers through their first year of teaching. This program will also support programs to build professional community among new teachers.
  • The Physics Department will partner with the School of Education to improve mentorship and induction of all teachers of physics, including elementary school teachers.

Lesson Learned

  • The student teacher/supervising teacher relationship is a critical experience in the growth of a new teacher. The modeling and guidance provided by the supervising teacher needs to be frequent, content-specific, and student-centered. Therefore, successful preparation and induction of PhysTEC teachers will require selecting and supporting outstanding supervising teachers.

Activity Summary

  • TAG members will be invited to participate in induction/mentoring activities either as the provider or recipient of support. One TAG member has already initiated a professional education plan for herself. This summer she is scheduling bi-monthly meetings with the TIR to discuss relevant research and how that research can be used to improve design and delivery of curriculum.
  • Intern teachers who participate in physics and science education are encouraged to participate in science-related workshops provided to in-service teachers in the Seattle School District. Participation in these courses opens the door for these apprentice teachers to be initiated into a community of teachers of science. Student teachers are encouraged to participate with their cooperating teachers when possible.