University of Minnesota Project Report 2009
Teacher In Residence/Master Teacher
- The Teacher in Residence (TIR) and the PhysTEC team refined and continued to utilize the unique model for the use of Learning Assistants (LAs) in a large lecture format introductory physics course.
- The TIR recruited and hired Learning Assistants to work with PhysTEC program in the Fall 2008 and Spring 2009 semester offerings of Physics 1101 (algebra-based).
- The TIR hired five former Learning Assistants to work with PhysTEC program in the Spring 2009 semester offering of Physics 1301 (calculus-based).
- The TIR identified and contacted several Minnesota physics teachers to serve as members of the Teacher Advisory Group (TAG). First meeting was held in December and periodic contact is maintained with this group.
- The TIR initiated discussions with and began recruiting undergraduate physics majors that have an interest in teaching physics.
- The TIR organized and implemented a seminar for Learning Assistants that focuses on pedagogy and on getting the LAs prepared for their roles in the upcoming week of lectures.
- The TIR collaborated with School of Physics and Astronomy faculty member to teach Physics and Everyday Thinking course to elementary education majors.
- The TIR organized and initiated a “Physics Force-The Upcoming Generation” outreach group of LAs to perform small physics shows to student groups ranging from elementary to high school age.
- The TIR is responsible for preparing LAs for their roles in the upcoming lectures. There were times when it was difficult to plan materials in a timely manner prior to the lecture. Learning Assistants could have used more prep time.
- Advertising and promotion of the PhysTEC program started slowly. Getting the word out is essential to the success of the program.
- Communication between TIR and LAs was not always as timely and reliable as it needs to be. This is critical for the success of the program.
- Currently, we have no institutional support for Teachers In Residence beyond the first 3 years of the program. We are exploring options to obtain long-term support.
- The school district of the TIR should be asked to sign an agreement to place the returning TIR back into teaching physics classes.
- Returning LAs need to sign a contract that obligates them to completing 20 hours of observation/volunteer time in a high school physics classroom. This insures that they continue to explore physics teaching as a career possibility.
List of TIRs over the Project
- 2007-2008: Nancy Koch Bresnahan - physics teacher at Hopkins High School, Hopkins, MN - 26 years teaching experience
- 2008 spring and 2008-2009: Jon Anderson - physics teacher at Centennial High School, Circle Pines, MN - 22 years teaching experience.
- 2009-2010: Steve Olsen – physics teacher at Simley High School, Inver Grove Heights, MN – 33 years teaching experience.
Finding and Hiring a TIR
- The first twoTIRs were recruited from the Physics Force. This is a UMn outreach program that has been active for over 10 years.
- The third TIR was recruited from QuarkNet at the University of Minnesota group of teachers. This is an annual summer workshop for MN physics teachers that is conducted on the UMn campus.
- TIR applicants were asked to complete an application form(see below).
- Once we had identified our TIR, the School of Physics and Astronomy business manager worked with the contracts office at the TIR’s school district to prepare the paperwork. The district’s Governing Board had to approve a “Teacher on Special Assignment” agreement for each TIR, and the University contracts office signed a contract with the school district. The contract stated that the TIR would continue to receive his/her salary from the district, and the district would invoice the University for the cost of the TIR’s salary and benefits.
- In each case, we provided the new TIR with contact information for appropriately certified graduates of our program who might be hired as his or her replacement.
- Our TIR application is available online.
Typical TIR activities
- Co-teach science pedagogy courses; 5 hours/week. This is a weekly meeting with the LAs designed to prepare them for the upcoming week of lectures and to give them pedagogical background in teaching and, specifically, teaching physics.
- Teach one section of “Physics and Everyday Thinking” for elementary education majors; 15 hours/week. The other section is taught by a SPA Professor with whom the TIR closely collaborates.
- Work with physics faculty members to develop materials for reformed physics courses; 10 hours/week. These materials include the use of LAs in both lecture and weekly discussion sections.
- Facilitate and participate in PhysTEC meetings; 1.5 hours/every other week
- Participate in U of M Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM) planning committee meetings, etc; 2 hours/week
- Develop, schedule, and perform in Physics Force and PACES outreach programs; 5 hours/week
- Develop materials for PhysTEC and Outreach web sites
- Communication with Physics Department, College of Education and Human Development, Learning Assistants and Teaching Assistants; 5 hours/week
- Recruit and meet with undergraduates who are considering a career as a physics teacher; 1 hour/week