Recruiting future physics teachers involves personal attention, good advising, well-taught introductory courses, meaningful early teaching experiences, and a coherent, well-designed teacher education program. Teachers-in-Residence can play a key role in this process. In order to recruit teachers, it is also necessary to have a strong program that attracts substantial numbers of majors.

Recruitment Strategies

Challenge misperceptions around the teaching profession. Utilize the myth-busting toolkit provided by the Get the Facts Out (GFO) project. Have an honest conversation and show students that teaching is a fulfilling career, both financially and in job satisfaction.

Increase the number of physics majors in your department. The first step to increasing the number of physics teachers you graduate is to increase the number of physics majors in your department. Many of the same reforms that will make your department more inviting to majors-such as reforming your introductory course-will also help recruit teachers (see below).

Personally invite students to consider teaching. Publicize your program in introductory physics courses as well as other science and engineering courses, departmental open houses, and Society of Physics Students (SPS) meetings. If you feel a particular student would make a good teacher, let him or her know. Recruit your top students.

Send invitations. Send cards to incoming science and math students, and their parents.

Cast your net wide. In addition to physics majors, potential physics teachers include engineering majors, "post-pre-meds," graduate students, local two-year college students, and science and technology professionals in the workforce who are looking for a career change.

Create an environment that values teaching and supports future teachers. Faculty attitudes have a strong influence on students. Encourage your colleagues to adopt and model the attitude that teaching is an intellectually challenging activity worthy of the same degree of respect as physics research.

Model excellent teaching in physics courses. Model engaging, interactive teaching methods in your physics classes. A great intro class can inspire students to continue learning physics and share in the excitement and rewards of teaching.

Provide future teachers with good advising. Make sure all undergraduate advisors in your department know about and promote your teacher preparation program, and can direct their advisees to the right person for more information.

Create an authentic early teaching experience. Learning Assistant programs and other early teaching experiences give talented undergraduates the opportunity to try teaching in a low-stress, low-commitment, highly supported context. Learning Assistant programs also gives prospective teachers the opportunity to gain status within the department.

Expose students to real teachers. An enthusiastic, experienced, and committed teacher can be the best advertisement for a teaching career. This can be a Teacher-in-Residence or local teachers in a Teacher Advisory Group.

Create a four-year physics degree plan that includes teacher certification. Collaborate with your Education School to create a coherent program leading to a physics major and teacher certification program in four years. The course of study should include physics-specific pedagogy training, and should exclude unnecessary or redundant coursework. The burden of paying for additional semesters of school may discourage students from entering a teacher preparation program.

Offer scholarship support. Consider applying for Noyce Teacher Scholarship funding or encouraging your students to apply for a Knowles Science Teaching Fellowship. In addition, AAPT and SPS offer scholarships for future teachers. See Funding - Teacher Scholarships for more information.

Have your graduates recruit future teachers. A well-prepared high school teacher can inspire students to pursue physics teaching in college. You can also invite your graduates to talk to your current undergraduates about teaching careers.

Promote teaching certification as a useful addition to a physics degree. Emphasize that it does not commit students to a lifelong teaching career, and that it shows they have communication skills that make them highly marketable in the workplace.

Form relationships with other departments. Encourage engineering and life science advisors to have their students take physics during freshman or sophomore years, when they still have time to switch majors and career plans.

Develop relationships with local two-year colleges. Two-year colleges are a nearly untapped source of potential future teachers. Articulation agreements can smooth the transition for students entering your program.

Make a website, brochure, or video. Follow the link below to great resource you can adapt for your own program, or use for inspiration.

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Recruiting Materials