This fall, I am going to be a student again. The plan is to take one class per semester over the next four years, so that I’m in a position to do student teaching around the time I’m coming up for sabbatical.
Reasons Why I’m Doing This?
#1 It would be nice to be certified to teach and to have some high school teaching experience.
#2 It would be nice to have a better understanding of the program of study the pre-service physics teachers experience.
#3 It would be nice to have a better understanding of the educational bureaucracies the pre-service teachers have to navigate, both before and around the time of induction.
#4 I’m just interested to do it. I’ll learn a lot and I’ll grow. I like that.
#5 Right now, I have less interaction with the folks over in MTeach than I should. This isn’t the only way to do it, but it does force the issue somewhat.
So, really, at the end of the day, I’m responsible for mentoring and teaching pre-service physics teachers, both formally and informally. Right now, I teach 3 courses that all pre-service physics teachers must take. Meaning they get a high dose of “me”. Figuring out exactly our “Physics Teaching Concentration” and “me” does, can, and should interface with the UTeach education minor is not straightforward. I can read the syllabus, talk to instructor, sit in on a course, but I’m still left guessing as to a lot of the substantive ideas and meta-messages students experience along the way. Understanding how I can best leverage what they have and haven’t learned / experience is important, and I feel like I’ll be able to do a better job. Second, having more classroom experience will be extremely useful for many of the same reasons. I will be able to broaden the perspectives I can provide in the courses I teach, but also have a more nuanced, realistic approach to mentoring.
What Challenges Lay Ahead?
#1 I’m already (often) too busy, and this will make me more busy. This has consequences for time and stress to be engaged at home and at work.
#2 There is need to initiate and maintain open lines of communication with instructors who teach the courses I’ll take. I’m trying to imagine what it’ll be like for colleagues to grade my assignments, evaluate my work, etc? How can I enter in such situations in ways that reduce tensions?
#3 Am I really ready to do homework and take exams again? Jeez.
#4 How will /should situations be handled where I’m teaching students in my classes while simultaneously working on a project together in another class? There is potential for conflict of interest, and I have to think about that in concert with #2
Fortunately, this semester I’ll just be dipping my toe in the water. It’s a one-credit course, meets 1.5 hours a week with in-class teaching experiences. Totally excited.
Final Thoughts: I’m wondering whether I’ll blog about my experiences here, or start another blog. And then, I’m wondering, should that blog be public or private.
Would to hear what people think about all of this.