University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Project Report 2009
Early Teaching Experiences
- Students in our program are involved in a minimum of 30 hours of classroom experiences as part of the subject specific pedagogy courses. This is usually their first taste of teaching and they enjoy it immensely.
- When possible, students in the physics pedagogy course are paired one-on-one with a local high school physics teacher. These pairing lead to mentoring possibilities later in the program and after graduation. One-on-one pairing for the biology students is not possible.
- During the physics pedagogy course, students complete two “micro-teaching” experiences where they are in charge of the high school class. This has proved to be a rewarding experience. One mentor had his UNC student teach the entire class period and was pleased enough to have him do it again the next period.
- The first physics student completing his teaching internship (student teaching) was able to spend part of his time in an algebra classroom. This was beneficial as he was seeking dual licensure in physics and mathematics.
- Some “local” high schools are more than 30 miles from campus so placing students at those schools takes careful planning.
- As the program grows, recruiting sufficient numbers of mentor teachers becomes more challenging.
- Recruiting a mentor (cooperating) teacher for the first physics student completing his teaching internship was difficult. The teachers were either reluctant to have a student teacher be in charge of AP classes due to pressure from parents or were not teaching physics second semester.
- Starting a Learning Assistant program has been slow. Undergraduates at UNC are not used to teaching opportunities within the department.
- The teaching internship was revised based on feedback from the first set of students to complete the program. Revision will continue each year to improve the teaching experiences.
- The Teacher in Residence was able to recruit several more mentor teachers.
- It is necessary to start early to secure placement for the teaching internships.
- Continued recruitment of mentor teachers is critical as the program grows.
- Recuriting for the Learning Assistants Program needs to be accomplished much earlier in the semester.
- Students complete a minimum of 30 hours of field experiences prior to student teaching. In addition to observing and assisting the cooperating teacher, the (physics) students complete two “micro-teaching” experiences which are video-taped, evaluated and discussed with the pedagogy instructor.
- The students undertake full-time, twelve-week internships (student teaching) under the supervision of the mentor teachers, and University Supervisors. The University Supervisors visit students and schedule weekly student contacts in this intense clinical experience. Mentors provide support with unit and lesson planning, classroom management, and the community of the school. During the internship, university faculty provide evening workshops to assist students with the capstone project (digital portfolio).