Supported Site Florida International University: Teacher-In-Residence

Teacher-in-Residence

Successes

  • In the third year of the project, we were able to hire our third Teacher-in-Residence (TIR). The TIR is a Teach for America alumni, and therefore brought a unique set of skills to the program. These skills included a strong social justice and education component, strong motivational skills, and the ability to relate to many LAs through peer interactions.
  • The Teacher-in-Residence worked with the FIU Physics Education Research Group to accomplish PhysTEC Goals and improve science and math education at FIU. Examples include a complete restructuring of the Physics I LA and TA training, implementing the pilot Physics II reform labs (based on ISLE), overseeing all reformed labs including LA and TA training, supporting the reformed lab assessments, organizing the LA recruitment campaign, collaborating with Chemistry, Earth Science, and Mathematics to design and improve their LA programs, collaborating with Teach for America and the American Association of Physics Teachers to bring Modeling to TFA, and ongoing informal interactions with students and LAs to bring them into the community.

Challenges

  • The one-year hiring cycle for the past 3 TIRs places additional mentoring burden on the project team. Moving towards at least 2-year cycles would benefit the project.
  • The project’s TIR hiring option limitations (i.e. only those teachers willing to leave the district payroll) limits the choice of possible TIRs. Teachers interested in applying for the TIR position have been frustrated by inflexibility of the district.

Sustainability/Institutional Buy-In

  • FIU’s College of Education and College of Arts and Sciences have committed to supporting the Teacher-in-Residence position at the close of the initial project period, starting in Fall 2010.

Lessons Learned

  • Having experienced teachers ready to “replace” Teachers-in-Residence makes principals more comfortable in releasing teachers. This alternative to the original plan may result in something like a traveling expert physics teacher.
  • Teachers are reticent to leave known, comfortable environments, and so familiarity with FIU and Research Group members has been a key factor in recruiting new TIRs. All prospective TIRs have been past participants of CHEPREO’s Physics Modeling Workshops.

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List of TIRs over the Project

· 2007-2008—Leanne Wells: Taught Electronics, Physics, & Mathematics for 10 years in Botswana and Miami, FL.

· 2008-2009—Jorge Gibert: Taught Physics I, Honors Physics and AP Physics for 7 years in Miami, FL.

· 2009-2010—Diane Crenshaw: Taught Regular, Honors, and AP Physics for 2 years with Teach for America in Miami, FL.

Finding and Hiring a TIR

  • In February, the FIU PhysTEC team contacted physics teachers to let them know that we were seeking a TIR for the next academic year. A job description was provided (see Appendix 5).
  • A parallel effort to instituitionalize the TIR position also began in February. The team contacted College of Education and College of Arts & Sciences deans. Each college has committed to providing half salary for the position and paperwork creating the position is in process.
  • Two candidates showed interest in the position in Spring 2010. The team selected David Jones. Mr. Jones had 19 years of high school physics teaching prior to joining the FIU PERG as CHEPREO Coordinator.
  • We expect David Jones to remain in the TIR position for several years. We do envision hiring additional teachers to serve in associate TIR roles, perhaps as part time to allow the teacher to remain active in the classroom.

Typical TIR activities

  • Co-teach science pedagogy courses for LAs; 4 hours/week
  • Run TA and LA training for reformed Physics I labs; 2 hours/week
  • Run TA and LA training for reformed Physics II labs; 2 hours/week
  • Oversee reformed physics labs: TA and LA classroom observations, preparing curriculum and equipment, working with lab manager, etc; 5-10 hours/week
  • Mentor LAs and TAs; 5-10 hours/week (Much of this mentoring occurred during informal conversations and meetings in the TIR’s office and in responding to LA and TA e-mails and phone calls.)
  • Running the LA program (LA recruitment, program design, pre-semester training, scheduling); 1-10 hours/week
  • Meet with members of Physics Education Research Group individually or together; 1-10 hours/week (dependent on upcoming events & activities)
  • Prepare proposals & reports, maintain records, maintain TIR paperwork; 1-10 hours/week