Supported Site Ball State University: Teacher-In-Residence

By the summer of 2007, Ball State had already completed its funded programmatic work on the PhysTEC project, so no new TIR was hired for the 2007-2008 academic year.

Successes

  • The quality of Ball State’s TIRs has been outstanding. Their accomplishments prior to joining the department as TIRs have made them respected colleagues in the department. They have been named Outstanding Physics Teachers by the state AAPT, they have been named national Tandy Award winners, they have been community college administrators, and they have been accomplished physical science teachers in other states.
  • Each TIR has brought a different interest and strength to the department and to the project. This diversity has been valuable to the department and its students.
  • Ball State University administrators have come to recognize the high levels of achievement of the TIRs and gain a greater awareness of the TIR model and the positive impacts the TIR can have on both preservice and new inservice science teachers. As an example, administrators of the recently-awarded Woodrow Wilson Foundation grant intend to use the TIR model to mentor new teachers in high-need schools.
  • In addition to the positive recruitment impacts that the TIRs provided, the induction/mentoring of preservice and inservice teachers by Ball State’s TIRs throughout the project has assisted in providing a 100% retention rate of the 41 certified physics teachers produced by the department during the past eight years. (Additional examples of TIR accomplishments are presented below.)

Challenges

  • From the TIR’s perspective, having only one school year to accomplish all goals associated with the job description of the TIR is the biggest challenge. Proper preparation, scheduling of the TIR’s time, and mentoring of a TIR are important to an effective year in the department and the university.
  • Each beginning TIR faced similar challenges of meeting college administrators, science and education faculty, and solving the physical problems of relocation in a new work environment.
  • Recruitment of a TIR requires effective working relationships between the university and K-12 schools of the state and region. School administrators are very reluctant to lose a Master Teacher, so examples of the benefits to their corporation (school district) must be shared.
  • When school administrators do agree to the TIR concept, reimbursement to the corporation for the TIR’s salary is often expected rather than the cheaper first-year replacement.
  • In the absence of external funds to support a TIR, departments face the challenge of how to fund a TIR, given all of the other needs of the department, college, and university. Reallocation or discretionary funds from the department, college, or university are required.
  • TIRs returning to their classroom after the one year at the university may find a loss of stature at their schools. For example, they may no longer be coordinators of science sections or teach classes that they have spent years perfecting.

Sustainability/Institutional Buy-In

  • Early in 2008, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation notified Ball State University that it was one of four institutions in Indiana to receive scholarships for transitioning science, engineering, and mathematics professionals into teachers. The TIR model, based on the successful mentoring and retention of physics teachers in the PhysTEC program, will be used to mentor these new teachers.

Lessons Learned

  • In order to provide a smooth transition to their duties beginning in the fall, each year the new TIR joined the Physics and Astronomy Department faculty one month prior to the beginning of fall semester; $2000 ($500 per week) was paid to the TIRs for their work during this time. This provided an opportunity to solve numerous relocation issues (E-mail and office arrangements) and meet college administrators, department faculty, Science Education faculty, and Teachers College faculty and staff.
  • At the end of the academic year, TIRs were contracted to remain with the project one additional month in order to work with PhysTEC Team members in capturing their contributions of the past year, preparing reports, and getting ready for the summer national AAPT meeting. Again, $2000 ($500 per week) was paid to the TIRs for their work during this time.
  • Patience, persistence, and success stories of individual TIRs are key to ensuring that influential administrators remain aware of the value of the TIR Program.

List of Teachers-in-Residence (TIRs) over the project

  • 2006-2007—Elaine Gwinn, Physics Teacher, Shenandoah High School, Middletown, Indiana chosen to the AAPT’s PTRA program in 2006.
  • 2005-2006—Neil Anthony, Chair of Physical Science, East Central Region of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana; current Chair of General Education, East Central Region of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana
  • 2004-2005—Jeff Sayers, Physics Teacher, Northview High School, Brazil, Indiana; chosen 1997 Physics Teacher of the Year by Indiana AAPT and in 2003 received an NSTA Radio Shack national award; currently Physics Teacher at the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities, Ball State University
  • 2003-2004—Michael Wolter, Physics Teacher, Muncie Central High School, Muncie, Indiana; chosen 1999 Physics Teacher of the Year by Indiana AAPT and in 2003 received an NSTA Radio Shack national award. Sadly, Mike passed away in August of 2007.
  • Spring semester, 2002, and 2002-2003: James Bogan, former Physics Teacher at Lebanon High School, Lebanon, Indiana, and Adjunct Faculty at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana; chosen to the AAPT’s PTRA program in 1986.
  • 2002-2003: George Hill, retired physics teacher from Marion High School, Marion, Indiana; chosen 1982 Physics Teacher of the Year by Indiana AAPT.

Finding and Hiring a TIR

  • Differing strategies have been used to recruit and hire the TIR.
    • Mailing to all Indiana physics teachers seeking nominations.
    • Contacting recipients of the Physics Teacher of the Year Award given by the Indiana AAPT
    • Restricting searches to within a radius of 60 miles around Ball State.
  • As the project evolved, the former TIRs were instrumental in recruiting a new TIR. For example, their presentations and contacts at state and national meetings often led to inquires into the TIR position. In every case, however, it was critical that a key administrator in the school system (superintendent or principal) was supportive of allowing a one-year absence for one of her/his best teachers.
  • As mentioned previously, several corporations (districts) were willing to approve a prospective TIR until salary negotiations broke down. Some corporations wanted replacement funds for the TIR rather than the less expensive first-year teacher, who became a mentee for the TIR.

Typical TIR activities

  • The duties of the TIRs fall into four main categories: (1) working with preservice teachers, (2) recruitment of pre-service teachers, (3) mentoring new inservice teachers, and (4) assisting university faculty in course reform, working with science methods faculty, and TA training.
  • Once a new TIR had been hired, the TIR joined the department approximately four weeks prior to the beginning of fall semester. During this time, the TIR and a PhysTEC staff member prepared a job description of duties that she/he would be doing during the coming year. Professional meeting dates, abstract deadlines, mentees for the year, grant opportunities, and other goals for the year were determined.
  • Other than providing one day per week to mentor the TIR’s replacement, the TIR was responsible for setting her or his own scope of work, which typically included attending course reform meetings in the department, being a mentor for preservice teaching majors, and working with the Science Education faculty who were from the life science area.
  • The department continues to work closely with 2005-2006 TIR, Neil Anthony. Mr. Anthony is currently Chair of General Education and Chair of Physical Science at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana.

Future TIR activities

  • Elaine Gwinn, 2006-2007 TIR, will be working in the summer of 2008 with Paul Hewitt and other colleagues on curriculum development with the C3P Project for Texas high schools.
  • The 2004-2005 TIR, Jeff Sayers has been given a grant through Purdue University to develop two new courses that promote engineering in high schools. Only 20 high schools in the nation have been selected for this project.