Collaboration between physics departments, education schools, and local school districts is essential to create a coherent and effective teacher preparation program. The linchpin of collaborative efforts is often the Teacher-in-Residence, who is in a unique position to be able to use his or her connections in the local school district to improve the preparation, induction, and mentoring of future physics teachers.

Strategies for Collaboration between Physics and Education Faculty

Form a committee of physics and education faculty to design a coherent program. A teacher preparation program should seamlessly integrate physics content, state teacher certification requirements, and pedagogical content knowledge. All courses in the program should be both necessary and appropriate.

Cross-list appropriate courses in physics departments and education schools. Courses that provide pedagogical content knowledge should be cross-listed, and designed to meet state certification requirements. This can lessen the time required for certification.

Use a Teacher-in-Residence as a bridge between your physics department and education school. As someone skilled and trained in both physics and teaching, a Teacher-in-Residence resides in both worlds, and is a natural liaison between physics and education faculty.

Form joint physics-education committees for faculty searches, grant writing, and thesis reviews. Including both physics and education faculty on committees ensures that both groups will have a voice in important decisions and programs that affect physics teacher preparation. Some grants, such as UTeach Replication, require collaboration between disciplinary departments and education schools.

Consider creating a joint faculty position. A number of universities have a faculty member with a joint appointment in physics and education, allowing this person to serve as a natural bridge between the two worlds.

Collaborate on articles, presentations, and workshops.

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Strategies for Collaboration between Physics Faculty and Local Teachers

Involve local teachers in the design and operation of your program. This will give you a strong cohort of teachers to work with, and make them feel invested in your program. One model is to host regular meetings of a teacher advisory group of local physics teachers on campus.

Use professional development workshops and other outreach efforts to make connections with local physics teachers. Professional development workshops and outreach efforts are great opportunities for recruiting teachers to supervise student teachers in your program, as well as for recruiting a Teacher-in-Residence. Professional development is also a way to ensure that student teacher supervisors buy into research-based teaching methods.

Form a professional learning community. Creating meaningful programs to bring teachers to your institution is a great way to forge connections with local schools.