"If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child - become a teacher. Your country needs you."
Christine Stith- University of Arkansas
I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Physics with a strong emphasis in chemistry, while simultaneously preparing to teach. Within this physics program I experienced physics classes which were taught using good pedagogy. Though each of the three University Physics classes was taught by a different instructor who used slightly different methods, this allowed me to see a variety of good examples. Walking into the university with the ambition of becoming a physics teacher, it was expected that I work as an undergraduate learning assistant in at least one of the introductory physics classes, I chose to work in both university physics I and II. This experience allowed me to deepen my understanding in specific content areas of physics, as well as develop a basis of teaching methodology when working one-on-one with a student or facilitating students in working in small groups. While in this program I was responsible for assisting students in a calculus-based physics course to learn content in a lab setting as well as office hours. During this time I learned that students will challenge my knowledge base on a daily basis, making me review the subject constantly, deepening my own understanding. Weekly meetings gave me a chance to see the reasoning behind the instructional choices made and insight into how students learn the particular content being addressed. My experiences during this program will strongly impact my future teaching.
Sam McClellan, Ball State University
I am currently studying Physics Education at Ball State University. My high school physics course is where I first seriously considered teaching physics as a future career. We were working on the subject of “impact,” but a friend of mine could not understand the concept. No amount of terminology was helping her either. She was a cheerleader, specifically a flyer, for the high school cheer team. With that in mind, I explained “impact” to her by using her experience with cheering as an analogy, which helped her understand. As I have pursued my goal of becoming a teacher in college I have had many other opportunities to help my peers understand what they are studying and I thoroughly enjoy it. While I have been at Ball State, I have come to realize that, while physics does hold a place of particular interest in my heart, it’s actually the people that drive me to teach. I desire to serve students in their educational pursuits, and combined with my love for physics, teaching high school has proved to be the best option for me to serve future students.
Clarissa Lovegren, Seattle Pacific University
Teaching physics was not initially my plan when I came to Seattle Pacific University (SPU). However, immersion in the Learning Assistant Program at SPU made this reality so personal to me. All of the sudden a new world opened up – a world where I could understand science and use this knowledge to affect lives. Eager to dig deeper into this newfound passion, I began volunteering at Garfield High School, located in Seattle’s most densely populated residential district. With every single visit, my passion for teaching science to the young minds of our nation increases. The majority of students in this classroom come from low-income homes. Yet, they continually demonstrate every ability to succeed in school, and in life, with each opportunity they get. These aspects of my education at SPU truly encourage my drive to fight for those who face disadvantages when it comes to gaining their rightful education.
Nathan Walsh, University of Arkansas
I began college on the engineering track because at the time I viewed becoming an engineer as being successful. I ended up enjoying my introductory physics classes so much that I switched majors that same year. Since my parents home-schooled and I am the oldest son, I had ample opportunities to teach from a very young age, but it wasn't until college that I really found purpose in it. As a member of the Society of Physics Students at my undergraduate university, I was a part of the formation of a tutoring group for students in the freshman and sophomore level physics classes. Many of the students who attended tutoring thought they were doing poorly in their physics class because "they weren't smart enough to understand physics." We had the opportunity to show these students that, although difficult at times, physics was not impossible, and in fact it could be fun. When a student has that "Ah ha" moment, it can be one of the most fulfilling experiences for me. This is the biggest reason I've committed myself to a life of teaching.