Supported Site University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Collaboration

Collaboration among the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education, University Administrators, and Local Public School Systems

Successes

  • The new Dean of Education continues to be a strong supporter of the program, especially since the math and science teacher portion of the MAT program will terminate as of May 2012, leaving UNC-BEST as the only avenue for high school math and science teacher preparation at UNC-CH.
  • Mathematics, Gelogical Sciences and Chemistry departments have all joined the UNC-BEST program and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction approved their addition to the program.
  • Our Steering Committee for the UNC-BEST program continues to develop and manage the program as a full partnership. With the addition of Mathematics, Geological Sciences and Chemistry, the Committee was restructured and divided into two - the (new) Steering Committee consisting of the department chairs, and/or founding members, the School of Education Deans, and the Program Coordinator and the Operations Committee consisting of the faculty who teach the UNC-BEST courses.
  • We continue to have the strong support of the University administration at the highest levels. UNC-BEST is frequently mentioned in the "stump speeches" of senior administrators in the UNC System.
  • Our Teacher Advisory Group made up of local physics and math teachers have served as excellent mentors for field experiences for the physics pedagogy students. They assisted us with planning a small conference on current advances in physics and pedagogy that we hosted in December 2009.
  • The conference - entitled Symposium on Horizons in Astronomy and Physics Education (SHAPE) - has small attendance, but is well received.
  • The Provost (then Interim Provost) granted a four year continuation of funding for the physics and biology education specialists in the fall.

Challenges

  • We have experienced a significant administrative turnover. We have a relatively new Dean of Education, Dean of Arts & Sciences, and Provost (the latter two were internal promotions). In addition, the physics department chair turned over July 2009 and the mathematics department chair turn over as of July 2010. This required the new chairs to "come up to speed" on UNC-BEST. Fortunately, both are strong supporters of the program.
  • Communication with some of the partner school districts included in our Teachers for a Competitive Tomorrow grant continues to be difficult. However, some progress has been made.

Sustainability/Institutional Buy-In

  • With the demise of the math and science portion of the MAT program, the importance of UNC-BEST as UNC-CH's only means of producing high school math and science teachers has been enhanced.
  • Our Chancellor continues to be a firm supporter of the program, as does the new Dean of Education.

Lessons Learned

  • It is vital that we have a concise, convincing "sales pitch" with appropriate documentation to convince new administrators of the value of our program and to allow them to make a similar pitch to external constituencies.

 

Activity Summary

  • Our program is now fully in place in physics, biology, mathematics, geological sciences and chemistry.
  • We have twice hosted a small conference (SHAPE) for high school teachers. Attendance was low, but it was very well received. We have obtained funding to host a third conference, with the strong participation of the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center.