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.

7 thoughts on “Learn.Brian.Learn

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  1. I’ve thought about this a lot — I can take one free class a semester, and it occurred to me recently that, had I started taking advantage of that 6 years ago, I would be credentialed by now. (Except for that student-teaching part, which would require more time than I have. — I hadn’t thought about doing the sabbatical thing.)

    I’ve taken two courses at Chico — biology (taught by Irene), and “teaching composition” (taught by Kim) — both as a way of better informing my teaching and our grants. They also took classes from me. I have loved being a student alongside my students, and seeing a college class through the lens of being a college instructor. In both cases, of course, the instructor knew me and didn’t really grade my work — so I think that doesn’t help with #2. But as far as #3 goes, it was really eye opening. I thought I would enjoy being a student again, but was reminded that there’s some anxiety about getting things in on time, and a decent amount of slogging through material that you don’t always find useful.

    And I’d hope you’d blog about it publicly. But can also understand why you wouldn’t.

    1. Yeah, I get one free class per semester, too. I had been thinking of doing this, and then when I heard Richard Steinberg talk about it and then read his book, I decided I should go for it.

      The benefit to me of blogging publicly is that it pressures one to give charitable accounts. Even if it’s private, I’d certainly permit select readers. I feel like I’d to do it publicly, but need to consider more how that impacts other people.

  2. Brian, my hands are sweating for you. I think it could be great, will more likely be underwhelming. I hope there is more than a blog that comes of it, this sort of first person account would be fantastic – mostly so I don’t have to do what you are about to do.

    1. Bethany laughed out loud when I quoted, “I think it could be great, will more likely be underwhelming”. Happy to sacrifice for the greater good.

  3. Public blog definitely. I used to take at least one course a year, often well outside my area of specialty (particularly when I was changing fields). Lately I’ve been relying more on self-education, because what I wanted to learn was not well taught on our campus. I’ve never been tempted to take education courses though, and am curious what your reaction to them will be.

  4. This is weird, as I just decided to work on my own teaching license (since I am at an independent school, I don’t have one) this coming fall too. It’s certainly a scary thing and I know it’s going to challenge me in some ways. As I looked over the requirements though, I couldn’t help but be excited about taking some chemistry and biology courses and expanding my own scientific knowledge. I hope that you take the time to share your experiences, as it will certainly help to have someone else to empathize with during the experience.

    1. That’s awesome. Brian’s Back to School! I definitely will share my experiences. Even if it ends being on a private blog, I’ll be sure to invite you as a reader. I’m hoping to keep the posts here, or at another public site, but I need to figure out what makes sense.

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