Supported Site Cornell University: Induction & Mentoring

Successes

  • In 2008-2009, TIR Marty Alderman was University Supervisor (US) of one physics/math student teacher. He supervised the physics placement, and co-supervised the math placement.
  • In 2009-2010, TIR Jim Overhiser initiated "20 minutes with Jim" interviews with each UTA and also with each graduate TA enrolled in the "Teaching and Learning Physics" seminar, to discuss their teaching experiences, their history and their interest in physics teaching careers.
  • In 2010-2011, now part-time TIR Jim Overhiser was the cooperating High School physics teacher supervising the student teaching experience for one of our PhysTEC students. Jim has also been mentoring a second PhysTEC student, who will be student teaching with Jim during the fall 2011 semester.

Challenges

  • There were too few physics education students in the pipeline when our project began, and students from the 2008-2009 UTA program will not earn their BS degrees and be eligible for MAT programs until Fall 2011. Consequently, the TIR's capacity for induction and mentoring has so far been severely underutilized.  
  • Converting non-matriculating master UTAs into CTE program graduates remains a significant challenge.  
  • The overall visibility of the CTE program with undergraduates remains low. The location of the CTE program within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences tends to isolate it from physics-capable students in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences and Engineering.
  • During the 2010-11 academic year, the early announcement of the planned dissolution of Cornell's Education Department without accompanying announcement of planned support for students interested in education resulted in much confusion and frustration and greatly complicated our efforts. We now know that the Education faculty will be distributed into various other departments, that education courses will continue to be listed in a single group, and that a path to teacher certification and a Masters in Education will continue to exist at Cornell.
  • We are hoping that with the elimination of the Education Department that a new structure with broader University involvement will replace the current CTE program.
  • We have been fortunate to have tremendous support from the Physics Chair and Director of Undergraduate Studies. The College of Arts and Sciences appears to support a larger role for the science and math disciplines in the preparation of future teachers.

Lessons Learned

  • The TIR provides a helpful voice of experience to pre-service teachers that is complementary to that of Education faculty.

Activities

  • In 2007-8, TIR Alderman attended all lectures and actively participated in Cornell Teacher Education's TED 404 and 405 - Learning and Teaching I and II.
  • In 2007-8, TIR Alderman assisted 5 Masters of Arts in Teaching candidates with projects in Physics/Physical Science.
  • From 2007 to the present, TIRs Alderman and Overhiser have been working with the Cornell Institute for Physics Teachers to involve undergraduates in the CIPT's professional development activities for in-service physics teachers, and to provide them with additional physics teacher role models. All Noyce scholarship applicants were invited to attend the Institute's summer lab sessions, and one of our UTAs has also been working in the CIPT program for more than a year.
  • UTAs and Cornell PhysTEC teachers are regularly encouraged to attend professional development opportunities like CIPT, AAPT, STANYS, NSTA, and the CNY Physics Alliance in order to help them establish a habit of professional development.