I engage in reflective practice and continually seek to improve my knowledge base and effectiveness as a teacher, make positive contributions to the culture of my fields, and demonstrate the dispositions of an emerging professional.
An effective teacher of diverse classrooms is a reflective teacher who implements a variety of techniques and tracks the effectiveness of each technique on each student (Bender, 2008). Coming from a background of constant learning and research, I have embraced the opportunities available for reflection with colleagues, professional development, professional organizations, and community outreach.
Because a professional learning community encourages reflection and improvement in all teachers, and especially beginning teachers, I formed a Critical Friends Group (CFG) with a fellow student teacher who had interests similar to mine in terms of formative assessment (described in more detail below).
I also attended multiple workshops and seminars on science education (see below), I plan to attend an American Association of Physics Teachers conference this summer, and I regularly use resources associated with professional organizations (see below). In December 2012, I was invited to speak at a university’s professional development workshop held for high school teachers in rural Ohio. The invitation was a result of my research experience in sustainability and my current teaching experience (also described below). I am currently discussing plans with UCLA to organize a similar workshop for Los Angeles physics high school teachers in the summer of 2014, and look forward to contributing to the professional development of other teachers while learning so much from these opportunities.
Finally, since action research is a key feature of any teacher trying to improve his or her practice (Bender, 2008, Ch. 8), I conducted action research on the use of formative assessment during my student teaching experience, collecting data in the form of student surveys, video analysis, observer feedback, weekly reflections, and CFG, and I intend to continue this practice throughout my teaching career.
Frequently integrate resources from American Physical Society into Lesson Plans
APS has an array of teacher-reviewed lesson plans (http://www.physicsclassroom.com/), comic books, and online simulations, which I regularly use in my lessons. When using a comic book about heat, students were excited to read out loud as different characters and then answer content-related questions, with many asking when the next installment would be. The online simulations of electric fields led many typically less engaged students to watch amazing images of fields change before their eyes (these simulations were paired with Every-Pupil-Response formative assessment to help assess and reinforce content).
Critical Friends Group with Student Teaching Colleague
My colleague and I both had the goal of integrating every-pupil-response formative assessment in our classrooms, and met twice a week to discuss our efforts so far, sharing different techniques, reflecting on their successes and failures, and making plans to adjust these for specific classrooms and students.
Community Outreach at Ithaca Science Center
I volunteered with a physics teacher and other physics students to explain the nanoscience of iridescence to families visiting a free science museum event. I contributed to science enthusiasm in the community while learning from teachers, peers and the community what engages visitors about nanoscience.
Examples of My Continuing Professional Development
Attended workshops and seminars at Cornell University
An all-day Cornell workshop on the Higgs Boson provided me with material beyond the standard curriculum to help excite teachers and students. And by voluntarily participating in a weekly physics pedagogy seminar at Cornell University, I was able to further refine techniques specific to teaching physics. I integrated some techniques into my lessons, including a popular youtube video of someone sliding down a huge slip ‘n slide, off a ramp and into a kiddie pool hundreds of meters away; I had students watch this for a test, hypothesize if it were actually possible, and design an experiment to test their hypothesis.
Presenter at Ohio Sustainability Workshop for high school teachers
Due to my research background, I was invited to present sustainability content to high school teachers in a way that they could transfer into the classroom. In the past, I would have simply explained my content in a direct instruction format. But in preparing this talk, I realized that the teachers need to be engaged in this lecture, just as they plan to engage their students, so I included components that involved them, as well as specific lesson plan ideas they could use. I was glad to hear that nearly all teachers marked “agree” when asked if they would use this content in their lessons and if they thought the information increased their knowledge.
Member and User of National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) resources
As a member of the NSTA, I read weekly email updates and regular newsletters to get ideas for classroom activities, while also using their online resources for ideas. I have already integrated some of these ideas into student teaching, such as an online interactive map of earthquakes, volcanoes and plate boundaries when teaching middle school earth science.