Find support for one or more Master Teachers (MTs) or Teachers In Residence TIRs). The Teacher in Residence/Master Teacher is a flexible position that you can mold to best fit your institution’s needs. Several PhysTEC sites have secured administrative support for permanent funding lines for MT/TIRs:
- The Dean of the College of Science and Math at Cal Poly has agreed to fund one TIR at present, with the possibility of more in the future, in recognition of the important roles the TIRs play in the physics department. TIRs/MTs who teach courses and supervise student teachers free up faculty time and therefore encourage administrative support.
- The deans of the Colleges of Education and Science and Mathematics at Towson have endorsed a proposal to create a permanent staff position to take on the TIR duties and other PhysTEC responsibilities that are currently handled by the project PIs, including coordinating field experience placements and conducting assessments of student teachers.
- The Arkansas College of Education and Health Professions (CoEHP) now supports a full-time science specialist TIR/MT to work with preservice elementary teachers.
- UTeach at the University of Texas at Austin is building an endowment to support its master teachers as well as other aspects of the program, including tuition waivers for students in the early field experience courses, and the new teacher induction program. More information.
- Seattle Pacific has funding from Boeing for a multiple-year Master Teacher.
- Ball State University faculty have succeeded in getting a line item in the proposed state budget to TIRs/MTs in multiple STEM departments.
- Arizona was able to support one of its TIRs for a year after her PhysTEC service with state funds as a mentor for early-career science teachers.
Make your course reforms transferable, and share the wealth of knowledge broadly. Introductory physics courses touch all future physics teachers, so it is critical that a sizable fraction of the faculty in the department believe in and practice interactive teaching methods.
- Cal Poly faculty have developed "day-by-day plans" for introductory mechanics and E&M courses, as well as physics for elementary teachers, to allow interactive teaching methods to be transferred easily between faculty. By following these plans, faculty new to teaching with interactive methods are able to achieve comparable learning gains to faculty experienced in these methods.
- Arkansas PhysTEC faculty have developed robust course systems that allow transfer of interactive teaching methods in their flagship University Physics courses to other faculty.
- Arizona developed a library of conceptual questions to be used in introductory physics courses, with responses collected and displayed via an electronic Personal Response System.
- Clickers and Peer Instruction – popularized by Harvard’s Eric Mazur – have infiltrated not only many of Colorado’s physics classes, but also many other departments. Faculty outside of the physics education research community have also become far more willing in the past few years to use Tutorials and Learning Assistants. Perseverance pays, as Colorado reports a “conversion” rate of about one faculty member per year.
- Course reforms at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are designed “to ‘institutionalize’ meaningful course content and effective pedagogical methods, so that good teaching is not dependent on a single inspired instructor but is integral to all sections of all classes” and “develop a model for basic science teaching that will be ‘portable’ to other departments on our campus and to other physics departments at large research universities.” More information.
Advocate that interactive physics and science pedagogy courses be required or recommended for pre-service teachers.
- At Arkansas, Towson, and Cal Poly, reform-based physics or physical science courses for elementary education majors courses are standard parts of the elementary education program. Colorado faculty are also pushing to get their course required for future elementary teachers.
- At Arkansas, Physics faculty teaching methods classes are cross-listed in physics and curriculum and instruction, and are strongly recommended by the College of Education and Health Professions for entering science and math MAT students.
- At Colorado, the physics education research seminar Teaching and Learning Physicsis being submitted as a regular course that can count for credit towards a physics degree.
Overwhelming evidence is the key to generating buy-in. Physicists and deans are rarely impressed by anecdotes – they want to see data that prove the efficacy of new programs and reforms. As a result of project assessment efforts, PhysTEC faculty have been able to convince their colleagues and administrators that it’s worth the effort to improve the preparation the next generation of physics teachers.
- Colorado has collected data showing that after serving as Learning Assistants, undergraduates score nearly as high as incoming graduate students on standardized content assessments.
- Towson faculty have developed their own pedagogy and attitude assessments, based on the National Science Education Standards, and have collected data to show that student teachers who take their new inquiry-based early field experience course teach inquiry-based lessons more often – and traditional lessons less often – than student teachers who went through their program before the course reforms. In addition, they have collected data to show that student teacher attitudes towards science itself, as well as their students’ ability to learn science, improve as a result of the course.
- Western Michigan project faculty were able use content assessments to show that interactive engagement techniques in their introductory calculus-based physics sequence led to student learning gains over twice those of students in traditionally taught course sections. These results convinced most of the faculty in the department, as well as all new faculty joining the department, to adopt reformed teaching methods.
Leverage existing funding and programs to secure future institutional and external support. External funding can provide an impetus for your institution to make available matching funds to your program, and can also serve as a foundation for developing future grant proposals.
- Towson and Cal Poly faculty have both used PhysTEC funding to leverage matching funds from their respective administrations to support multiple Teachers In Residence. Both schools appear on the way to securing permanent faculty positions for the TIRs.
- The external funding that supports Seattle Pacific’s Teacher in Residence helped faculty there make the case for securing a joint physics-education faculty position. In addition, faculty at Seattle Pacific receive teaching load credit for coordinating the Learning Assistant training course.
- Colorado has used the successes of their PhysTEC programs to support their next set of funding requests, including a Noyce fellowship for future teachers and a National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) request to replicate UTeach.
- APS and AAPT have strong cachet among professional physicists, and it may be possible to use these organizations’ support of physics teacher preparation to persuade faculty members and administrators of the value of various elements of teacher preparation programs.