red Supported Site Virginia Tech: Induction & Mentoring

Successes

  • The TIR, Alma Robinson, was able to have email and telephone conversations with both the PhysTEC alumni and her former student teacher.
  • Through these conversations, they shared ideas on lessons, classroom management, and ideas for professional development.
  • Some PhysTEC alumni took a Physics Modeling Workshop in summer 2013.
  • During the 2013-14 academic year, the TIR, Mary Norris, conducted multiple virtual meetings with PhysTEC alumni who are now teachers using Google Hangouts. The alumni enjoyed the opportunity to talk about their classroom challenges and successes together and to provide ideas and support for each other. Six alumni participated in the meetings.
  • The TIR, Mary Norris mentored two novice local physics teachers.

Challenges

  • Because of the geographic distances between the TIR and the physics teachers, it was not possible to do in-person mentoring or observations.
  • Because of the time zone difference and the demanding schedules of first-year teachers, it could also be challenging to find a time to have a conversation.
  • Although the use of Google Hangouts allowed alumni and the TIR to meet despite spatial separation, finding common meeting times was still difficult.
  • Building a local community of physics teachers remains difficult, mainly due to teacher's busy schedules.

Sustainability

  • Keeping constant contact with PhysTEC alumni will be of utmost importance, especially as the TIR changes.
  • Perhaps the new TIR and former TIRs can form some sort of collaboration in mentoring.

Lessons Learned

  • Providing the PhysTEC alumni with periodic calls just to see how things are going can be extremely beneficial.
  • Observing our PhysTEC alumni teach would be a very useful mentoring tool and should be done if possible.
  • Well-chosen emails to alumni and local teachers are appreciated even when the reply rate is low.

Activities

  • The TIR had many phone and email conversations with both our PhysTEC alumni and the TIR's former student teacher during the academic year to check up on how they were doing as well as provide guidance when needed.
  • The TIR informally mentored the teacher who now teaches the AP Physics C course that she used to teach, through multiple email exchanges.
  • During 2013-14, the TIR conducted a virtual focus group with PhysTEC alumni who were currently teaching.