How Arizona businesses can BEST give summer financial support to HS physics & chemistry teachers

 

Former Governor Janet Napolitano asked, “How can we keep science and math teachers in the classroom?”

 

In January 2006, Jane Jackson, Co-Director of the Modeling Instruction Program in the Department of Physics at ASU, volunteered to Gov. Janet Napolitano's "Teacher Quality and Support Committee" to gather Arizona physics and chemistry teachers' responses to the question: "How can Arizona businesses BEST give summer financial support to HS physics, chemistry, and math teachers?" 

 

Summary of physics and chemistry teachers' responses:

Š      Most teachers want businesses to provide financial support to take content-related professional development, such as ASU Modeling Instruction workshops.

Š      A few would like summer internships, but most feel weak in content.

Š      A teacher, Mr. Robert Blackford, describes a detailed plan for how businesses can adopt individual teachers & provide financial support for them. His plan is based on his extensive business experience and discussions with colleagues at Mingus Union High School in Cottonwood. (Pages 6 to 8)

 

All teachers' submissions to the TQS feedback form are here (they were cc'd to me, Jane Jackson). I bold-faced sentences that are core recommendations from the teacher.

 

See information on science teachers’ needs and wants: http://modeling.asu.edu/MNS/MNS.html  and  http://modeling.asu.edu/modeling/ConvincingDocuments.html .

           

                        -------------------------

[From a female rural physics, chemistry, and integrated science teacher.]

Subject: RE: Governor Napolitano's Committee for Teacher Quality and Support

Date: Thu, 12 Jan 2006

Jane,

I did fill out the TQS Feedback form. Below is a copy of what I submitted.

 

"Many physics, chemistry and math teachers are under-prepared, and paying

them to attend professional development courses would increase the number of

teachers who attend these courses and would improve the quality of the

instruction students receive from teachers. Professional development

courses should be made available in rural areas, as well as in urban areas,

so that teachers in these areas can attend these courses without having to

move to the "big city" for the summer. The costs incurred in living away

from home and the disruption to family life that occurs often make the price

of professional development so high that many rural teachers can or will not

attend. Give teachers enough money to attend professional development

courses that they don't miss the income from the summer jobs many have and

allow them to attend courses close enough to home that they don't have to

leave their families and I think many physics, chemistry and math teachers

will be able and willing to attend. This will hopefully positively impact

the quality of instruction in Arizona classrooms."

 

She later wrote to Jane Jackson:

I thought about professional development versus summer employment with a

business and realized that many teachers have such weak backgrounds in

chemistry, physics and math that without some professional development, such

as a modeling instruction workshop, work experience won't really change the

quality of instruction.

                        --------------------------------

 [A male rural physics and chemistry teacher. His answers are in italics.]

Date: Thu, 12 Jan 2006

 

THE QUESTION FOR YOU TO ADDRESS: How can Arizona businesses BEST give

summer financial support to HS physics & chemistry teachers like you?

 

Aid in their education, for professional educators to improve the instruction of our science community!

 

Please comment also on:

a) How much money would make it worthwhile to a teacher like you?

     I think that for the summer instruction, compensation for educators

should be a substantial amount to accommodate for the loss of time with

family!  To make it worth my while I think that an amount equal to 1

month salary approximately $2500.00 plus tuition and a room to stay in

during the instruction would be considered!

 

b) How many weeks in summer would you be willing to commit to this?

            I think that a period of 2-3 weeks would be about all that I

could commit to this, with a family of 4 and many other responsibilities

between school and work.

                        ------------------

[A male rural isolated physics, chemistry, earth science, and astronomy teacher.

Date: Fri, 13 Jan 2006

Experienced and highly educated rural science teachers make $10-15 thousand

less than urban area science teachers. It would be helpful if Arizona

business could help equalize that by developing programs that pay those

teachers to train other teachers thus supplementing their incomes.

 

Business could also give scholarships to rural science/math teachers to

attend summer professional development courses to upgrade their skills.

Those scholarships would need to not only cover expenses, but should also

include a small salary that would make up for teachers not working in the

summer. I made more than $2000 teaching once a week for a local

community college last summer.

 

I would be willing to commit a month during the summer to upgrading skills

or teaching other teachers.

 

My high school currently employs 2 biology teachers and one former

elementary teacher, two of whom are teaching chemistry, earth science,

physics, and astronomy. The middle school in my district occasionally

employs English teachers to teach middle school science. I am sure that

rural school students are not receiving the same quality of science

education that urban areas students receive.

 

[His subsequent remarks to Jane Jackson are in italics.]

I left out comments on summer internships. They would be helpful for

teachers with majors in the subjects they teach. However, many

chemistry/physics teachers don't have that major, so summer courses and

workshops are probably better for them. I don't know if companies would be

interested in doing internships for people like me that have many science

units and workshops in a variety of different subjects. Since I am now also

teaching Earth Science, I recently looked over a summer geology program that

places teachers in National Parks for the summer and they all wanted

teachers with geology/paleontology majors. I doubt my 2 geology courses, a

couple workshops, and extensive reading qualify.

 

                        -------------------

[A physics teacher at a district school in Tucson. He has not taken a Modeling Workshop.]

Date: Fri, 13 Jan 2006

     I have had the best experiences in the past and I feel they have been the

most beneficial when I worked in summer internships in industry and research.

Working for the Dept. of Defense in Idaho, attending internships at Stanford

Linear accelerator, and working here in Tucson's waste management, all have

had a positive long lasting effect on my teaching chemistry and physics.

These programs ranged in duration from 2 to 10 weeks.

     Although it required a big commitment for the summer, the ten weeks I spent

working, actually performing a job for the Idaho National Engineering Labs

was by far the most satisfying. My compensation was travel expenses, housing

while I lived in Idaho, and a paycheck equivalent to my teaching salary. The

opportunities to interact with the professionals, PhD's, and technicians at

the Nuclear facilities applying the science I was teaching was by far the

most rewarding experience I have had in my teaching career..

                        ------------------

 

[A physics and environmental science teacher at a district school in Tucson]

Date: Fri, 13 Jan 2006

     The price of professional development coursework/workshops is astronomical, particularly with regard to coursework for secondary pedagogy in scientific fields.  Furthermore, opportunities for continued development are rare and require long commutes or room-and-board expenses.  I have observed that many regard it as a foregone conclusion that we can afford both tuition and time. (I'm going to have to start looking for a second job very soon as it is, as my wife is pregnant and soon will not be able to contribute to communal expenses.)

     This brings me to another recommendation: possible summer (paid) internships. 

     In the case of professional development, financial support on the part of AZ businesses would at least have to cover the lion's share of expenses; otherwise, most teachers would still not be able to afford tuition, living expense or time.

     In the case of internships, I do not believe wages comparable to AT LEAST minimum wage would not be out of line.

     In addition, AZ businesses could offer endowments/scholarships to help defray costs of present college students who could be enticed to enter into to the teaching profession.

 

                        ----------------

[A former engineer who teaches physics and physical science at a district school in Tempe]

Date: Fri, 13 Jan 2006

     I am a second year physics teacher having spent 20 years in industry. A large part of my success as a teacher has been due to the modeling classes that I took at ASU. I appreciated that there was no tuition cost for these classes and I hope that they will continue. I am going to start taking a math modeling class this spring, partly because it will make me a better teacher but also because I will be paid $20/hr.

     I believe that the best use of funds is to pay teachers to take modeling type courses at ASU. I would be very happy to commit 3-4 weeks at $20/hr.  

                        -----------------

 

[A physics and chemistry teacher at a high-poverty urban Phoenix district school.]

Date: Fri, 13 Jan 2006

    I think it would be an excellent thing if local high tech businesses

invested in their community's education system.  It is a win-win for

both parties - the schools and the companies.  The company gets better

employees that have come out of the local schools better trained in math

and science, and the schools benefit because the teachers are better

trained.  If local businesses paid for us to go to modeling workshops or

equivalent training that would be a great investment.  And then if

teachers that showed leadership potential were trained and paid to lead

other teachers in future workshops, the domino effect would be awesome.

Soon schools from college on down to the lower grades would have highly

trained science and math teachers!  All because private industry

invested in public education.   

     Another idea that has merit is to offer internships in the summer time

to interested teachers.  They could go work at Intel or somewhere and

get some hands-on experience on how semiconductors get made, computer

chips, or whatever technology might be there.  I did this at Motorola

years ago and it was very valuable to my teaching career.  Of course, a

teacher might not want to work all summer, so the employment might be a

month or something.  Those are the details that others can work out...

     As for how much compensation a teacher should receive for going to

workshops or teaching a workshop, I would have to say the desired amount

is daily rate of pay!  That is probably unlikely but I am not a budget

person.  I have taken many workshop classes at ASU and have taught a few

as well, and ASU has done a great job finding grant money, local money

or whatever to try to compensate us fairly.  If local companies pitched

in their share, who knows how much teachers could get funded for?  I

would hope for at least $20 an hour.

     I get two months off in the summer, so I would be willing to work as an

intern, or participate in workshops no more than a month.  I like to be

home with my kids for part of each summer.

                        -------------------

 

[A physics and physical science teacher at a high-poverty urban Phoenix district school.]

Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2006

It is well known that teacher expertise in content AND pedagogy enhance student interest and learning.  The question remains as to how to best aid teachers in developing this expertise.  There are three main approaches to increasing teacher content expertise (and application):

1)  Hire teachers with content knowledge (and applications)

2)  Give teachers the opportunity to gain content knowledge (and applications)

3)  Bring in outside sources of practical experience (guest speakers)

 

There are similarly a few methods for increasing pedagogical expertise:

1)  classroom experience (with reflection, peer review, discussion groups, etc.)

2)  additional professional development courses (combining content with pedagogy tends to be more efficient than abstract pedagogy)

 

So, in brief, one might argue that the development of expert teachers requires the hiring of qualified candidates (streamlining the transition into to the classroom), and the constant training of same.  No matter the degree to which a teacher is an expert in the field, inevitably, all

teachers will find that there is much that needs to be learned (content and pedagogy) in order to improve as a classroom educator.

 

In regards to the ongoing professional development of teachers, courses in which they meet with other professionals in their field and work through actual classroom activities, all guided by an expert in both content and pedagogy, are by far the most effective means for improving instruction (in my experience).  This then begs the question, how best to provide such experiences for instructors?

 

Time and money are the two greatest obstacles for instructors wishing to develop professionally, and thus are of great consequence when considering how to best spend funds earmarked for teacher development. During the year, the demands on teacher time are great, and with the latest initiatives (as well as club and extracurricular responsibilities), evenings and many weekends are all too often spoken for.  For the majority of teachers, summers are the best time for in-depth professional development.

 

Typical intensive summer training session require 40+ hours for efficacy, and thus many programs already exists which follow the 45 hour summer school format - ideally with four sessions available (AM or PM, June or July) - this allows for the greatest flexibility in teacher

scheduling.  Offering two week sessions, instead of three or four weeks, will also allow more teachers to successfully schedule time for these courses, as most teachers can only find the time to commit to a few weeks during each summer.

 

As for funding, grants to cover tuition costs remove many barriers, however, many instructors (particularly from rural areas) have room and board requirements.  The expert instructors who offer these courses need to be compensated for their time as well, ostensibly at their typical rates of pay.

 

Three further areas of business funding applicability would include the offering of paid internships over the summer (at or near typical pay rates - as the teachers would also provide the business with some useful output), funded field trips (buses, insurance, and meals) for classes,

and equipment grants for classrooms ($500 - $1000) as science classrooms are chronically underfunded. 

                        ------------------------------

 

A PLAN FOR BUSINESSES TO ADOPT INDIVIDUAL TEACHERS, LONG-TERM

 

To: Governor's Committee on Teacher Quality and Support

From: Robert (Robin) Blackford, physics, earth science, and math teacher,

       Mingus Union High School, Cottonwood, AZ. His first career was as a mining engineer.

Subject: Summer financial support from business and industry for high school physics, chemistry, and math teachers

January 16, 2006

 

There are three major financial burdens facing potential/existing teachers and districts in Arizona:

1) Pre-certification expenses and state requirements

2) Post certification state requirements

3) Mentoring/professional development state-wide

 

1)    Pre-certification expenses and state requirements:

a)     Core content comparable to BS degrees in Math, Chemistry and Physics as per State and NCLB

b)    Invest 4 to 5 years of full time course work at a major university, incurring the same expenses as Engineering and Business majors

c)     A semester of student teaching with no monetary compensation for services that compares to an internship in business/industry

d)    Proficiency Exam, certification and background/fingerprint expenses

 

1)    Post-certification expenses as per state requirements:

a)     180 hours of professional development over 6-year period

i)      60 hours of SEI certification training

ii)    University/Community College course work

iii)   Professional association fees and conferences (NCTM, NSTA, APT, etc.)

b)    Potential coursework to achieve “Highly Qualified Status” as per NCLB

c)     Optional MS degree in content area to advance along salary schedule

d)    Various District-specific mandated training outside of district in-services

e)     Crucial classroom instructional equipment and supplies that exceed district/department budgets necessary for quality instructional delivery

 

1)    Mentoring/professional development state-wide:

a)     Compensation to districts/teachers to conduct content and instructional delivery training for other educators

b)    Compensation to educators for advanced training in specific content areas

i)      Tuition expenses

ii)    Living expenses

iii)   Equipment/technology expenses

 

Proposed levels of support from business and industry:

1)    provide general scholarships and support for pre-certified math, physics, and chemistry students

a)     tuition/books/supplies

b)    part-time/summer employment

c)     all certification expenses

2)    adopt a post-certified educator and commit to long-term financial support

i)      Develop a long-term plan (6-10 year) to financially support their professional development in following areas.

(1)   Attainment of master’s degree through university programs specific to content area

(2)   Attainment of professional development hours through attending specialized university workshops, summer programs, and courses.

(3)   Industry/business summer internships in content related fields, i.e. chemistry teacher working in a pharmaceutical lab; physics teacher working in a research and development center; math teacher working with industrial engineering professionals

(4)   Hire content area teachers to re-train or update business/industrial personnel knowledge and skills, i.e. math teacher providing math instruction to business employees; teach employees basic computer skills, etc.

(5)   Provide compensation to the educator for full participation in this plan by paying partial salary, offering bonuses, etc.

(6)   Include the provision of classroom supplies and equipment as part of this plan as it relates directly to the classroom quality instructional delivery needs, i.e. upgraded technology with necessary peripherals; lab equipment; consumables

ii)    Development of content area workshops for other district and out-of-district educators to facilitate continuity of instruction, i.e. teach modeling methods to middle school science/math teachers, hold inter-school in-services and workshops

iii)   Mandatory professional content area conference attendance

3)    Business/industry partners with universities to design and implement programs specific to obtaining master’s degrees/professional development in content area readily accessible to educators both urban and rural

a)     Provide financial and content expertise

i)      Business/industry share expertise in human relations/classroom management

ii)    Financial support to universities for

(1)   Summer master’s programs

(2)   Summer workshop (Modeling Programs)

(3)   Rural extension course work or in-service from universities

 

This level of support will foster highly qualified educators who will in turn deliver quality classroom instruction.  This will result in more highly educated students graduating from Arizona high schools.  It is my belief that providing a standard of instruction with the necessary support to implement this will ensure continuity of excellent instruction throughout Arizona in chemistry, physics and math. Establishing partnerships with educators and industry/businesses will provide insights and first hand knowledge to both educators and students of the demands for highly educated and motivated professionals in this country.

Respectfully,

Robert Blackford

BS Mining Engineering

Certified Earth Science, Physics, and Math Sec Ed

                        ----------------------------------

A RESPONSE by a Presidential Science Awardee – physics and chemistry teacher.

Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006

To: Robert Blackford <blk4rd@gmail.com>

From: Larry Dukerich <ldukerich@mac.com>

Subject: your comments to TQS

Cc: jane.jackson@asu.edu

 

Hi Robin,

I'd like to compliment you on a job well done on your recommendations

to the governor's Committee for Teacher Quality and Support.  I

submitted the following today in support of your recommendations in

general and the MNS in particular.

 

 

I am writing to lend support to the recommendations made by Robin

Blackford.  While his comments covered a wide variety of concerns,

I'd like to focus on just one, the solution for which already exists.

I'm referring to his point #3) Mentoring/professional development

state-wide.

 

Teachers face increased pressure to continue their education with

additional requirements to achieve "highly qualified" status in a

particular field and with greater content and procedural knowledge

expected of their students.  They need to have the opportunity to

continue their professional development without facing a huge tuition

burden.  For the past five years, the NSF-sponsored Modeling

Instruction Program at Arizona State University has been providing

the support that has allowed between 125 and 150 teachers of physical

science to take a variety of courses and workshops during the summer.

These courses have enabled teachers to both increase their content

knowledge and to learn a reformed pedagogy that has been demonstrated

to improve student performance on a variety of measures.  I am

talking about a proven program which has assisted hundreds of

teachers (see: http://modeling.asu.edu/MNS/MNS.html).  The program

has been so popular that teachers from all over the country have

chosen to brave Arizona summers to learn how to become more effective

teachers.  You can obtain a list of testimonials from satisfied

teachers by contacting Jane Jackson, the Project Director

Jane.Jackson@asu.edu.

 

The problem is that the funding from the NSF has been exhausted.

Without some sort of support, the Master of Natural Science (MNS)

program is likely to wither and die due to the fact that teachers

will be simply unable to afford the tuition and room and board (for

non-locals).  It would require no more than $250,000 per year to

allow this program with a proven track record to continue.  This is a

concrete suggestion that addresses the very real problem of providing

teachers opportunities for meaningful professional development.  It

doesn't require a blue-ribbon panel to study the problem, nor does it

mean starting from scratch to design teacher workshops.  The

instructors and staff who make the MNS program at ASU work deserve

your support to continue to provide this valuable service to Arizona

science teachers. 

                        -----------------------------