Florida International University Project Report 2009
Induction & Mentoring
The FIU PhysTEC Project and CHEPREO (Center for High Energy Physics Research and Education Outreach) are two integrated projects targeting improving the quality and quantity of future physicists and physics teachers. They share a common foundation of guided inquiry pedagogy. CHEPREO includes a significant in-service component that supports induction and mentoring activities of PhysTEC.
- Members of FIU’s Teacher Advisory Group (TAG), Fizmo, attend regular meetings and are willing to mentor new teachers.
- Fizmo teachers report that they attend meetings not only to interact with their colleagues but also to explore new ideas in teaching physics.
- The most well-attended Fizmo meeting (11 teachers, 15 LAs) in 2008-2009 was the Teacher/LA meeting. Fizmo teachers had a late afternoon snack and shared experiences with LAs.
- Fizmo teachers are participating in the creation of the Induction and Mentoring plan by completing questionnaires (see Appendix 3) and participating in targeted discussions.
- Ongoing CHEPREO Physics Modeling Summer Workshops (Summer 2009 marks the 7th year) are available for new teachers to receive intensive training in model instruction techniques. This brings teachers to FIU, a group from which we may create mentoring/induction relationships.
- There are no students to mentor that have joined a teaching program. Mentoring of the first pool of LAs continues. The first batch of LAs that may become teachers will be enrolling in the Nature of Mathematics and Science course in the Fall 2009 semester.
- Miami-Dade and Broward are huge school districts. It is difficult to ensure that one of our graduates will be placed anywhere near a Fizmo member.
- Travel issues will require FIU PhysTEC to develop electronic means of mentoring, as teachers’ driving times could be as much as 2 hours to get to FIU meetings.
- We are philosophically committed to continuing support of the teachers prepared in our program. We continue to explore opportunities to work with two of our local districts to place our new teachers near Fizmo teachers. We are also working with district personnel to increase enrollment in physics course in local high schools so that physics teachers do not have to work in isolation. (See Collaboration)
- Beginning physics teachers who remain in the South Florida area will be invited to join the South Florida Physics Modeling Group (Fizmo), a physics alliance started by the CHEPREO project at FIU. It has existed for about 6 years.
- We are able to offer all our beginning teachers one year of membership in the professional organization of their choice, thanks to a memorial fund established for one of the founding members of our program.
- High school teachers, counselors, and administration advise students against taking physics because 1) the student’s GPA will suffer and they will not get into college and 2) teachers and schools receive monetary incentives for students to pass AP tests so they steer students to AP Anatomy and Physiology or AP Environmental Science. Therefore, there is typically, at most, one physics teacher per school, making it more difficult to build mentoring relationships.
- The cost and effort of mentoring early-career teachers is one that needs to be partially borne by the districts in which these teachers work, not solely by the university program that prepared them. Ongoing collaborations with Miami-Dade make it more likely that a joint effort can be created possibly funded with MSP dollars.
- Physics enrollment at the high school can be a function of the physics teachers in the school. Teachers that actively recruit and work with counselors to entice and enroll students in physics (regular, honors, AP) are generally successful in this endeavor.
Induction and Mentoring Activities
- The CHEPREO coordinator met with the TAG, FizMo, and solicited ideas about what is essential in a teacher prep program, as well as induction and mentoring efforts.
- The PhysTEC TIR attended the Fizmo meetings and worked with the CHEPREO coordinator to support local physics teachers with content, pedagogy, and experience within the local district.
- FizMo teachers completed questionnaires that included questions about what they would like to see in physics teacher induction and mentoring.