Recruitment at PhysTEC Sites
Ball State University
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Florida International University
Seattle Pacific University
University of Arizona
University of Arkansas
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Minnesota
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Western Michigan University
Get them when they walk in the door. Implant in students’ minds the idea of becoming a teacher as soon as they walk in the door.
Talk to them often. Visit students at their Society of Physics Students meetings, organize a departmental open house, visit intro and upper-level courses – leave no stone unturned where a potential teacher may be hiding. Make sure all undergraduate advisors know about and promote your teacher preparation program, and can direct their advisees to the right person. At Arkansas, physics faculty are even invited into engineering classes to recruit teachers.
Expose them to real teachers. Highly experienced and committed master teachers can be some of the most powerful advocates for teaching careers. PhysTEC Teachers In Residence (TIRs) at Arkansas, Ball State, Cal Poly, and Western Michigan visited classes, organized meetings, and gave presentations to get students excited about teaching. Seattle Pacific’s teacher advisory group also provides the university with teachers who can promote teaching careers to students.
Show them that teaching is fun and exciting. Model engaging, interactive teaching methods in your physics classes. Show students that teaching does not mean dry lecturing. A great intro class can inspire students not just to achieve test scores, but also to want to continue learning physics and share in the excitement and rewards of teaching. Arkansas reports that about three-quarters of the teachers who have graduated from their program were originally inspired to teach by University Physics, the department’s flagship intro sequence.
Give them 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. Many of them may not know that they enjoy teaching, or can teach, until they get a chance to try it. At Colorado, Learning Assistants who wish to remain in the program more than one semester must “show commitment to finding out more about teaching…[as] evidenced by taking an education course or participating in an early K-12 field experience. LAs can be hired for a third semester only if they have been accepted to a teacher certification program.” Colorado reports that 15% of their Learning Assistants go on to get their teaching certificates.
Create a four-year physics degree plan that includes teacher certification. At many schools it is nearly impossible to complete a physics major and a teacher certification program in four years. The burden of paying for additional semesters of school may discourage students from entering a teacher preparation program. One of the central components of the UTeach program is a compact four-year degree plan that includes teacher certification.
Think outside the box. Your future teachers might not be whom you expect. Arkansas Teachers In Residence recruited two of the department’s graduate students, who decided that a teaching career would suit them better than research. Seattle Pacific is reaching out to local two-year colleges to identify and advise prospective teachers.
Get your graduating teachers to recruit your future teachers. A well-prepared high school teacher can inspire students to want to study physics and pursue teaching certification once they get to college. You can also invite your graduated teachers back to campus to talk to your current undergraduates about teaching careers.
Offer scholarship support. Several federally funded program exist that support students who want to get their teaching certificate. Consider applying for Noyce funding) or encouraging your students to apply for a Knowles Teaching Fellowship. In addition, the Society of Physics Students (SPS) offers a yearly scholarship to an SPS member who is pursuing a career in physics education.
Make a website or brochure. Give students many ways to get information about teaching.