This coming Thursday, Florida’s State Board of Education will hold a workshop on teacher recruiting, education and induction. The first speaker will be Janet Gless of the New Teacher Center, who will have 20 minutes to cover the subject of “What is Good Teaching?” Presumably, that includes all subjects from reading to physics, and all grade levels from kindergarten (or before?) to high school. To me, that seems like a lot to cover in 20 minutes.
So I thought I’d help. To paraphrase Justice Stewart, with respect to good teaching you know it when you see it. Below I have inserted some pictures from FSU’s studio physics program, which is an adaptation of the SCALE-UP program initiated by the North Carolina State University Physics Education Research group and its indomitable leader, Bob Beichner. SCALE-UP is used to teach physics (the subject where it started), chemistry, math, biology, astronomy, engineering and even (wait for it) literature. Yes, literature.
And sure, FSU is a university and not a high school or middle school. But SCALE-UP has been successfully implemented in high schools, including Orlando’s Bishop Moore High School (see the Orlando Sentinel piece on SCALE-UP at Moore here). I’ll note just to poke at the folks at redefinedonline.org that Bishop Moore is a Step Up For Students school, and one where apparently high quality science teaching is a priority. I’m still waiting for Ron and Travis to feature Bishop Moore in a story in response to well, you know.
We are also having prospective physics teachers work as instructional assistants in our studio classrooms. These experiences have helped draw five students into physics teaching so far, and another is planning to enter the field of physics education research. As education researchers at the University of Colorado have documented, this isn’t an isolated effect.
To summarize – what you see below doesn’t only work in college-level physics, but also in high school-level science and maybe even in high school-level literature.
So, Dr. Gless, maybe you want to work a few of these pictures into your presentation. Or better yet, get the Board members to spend a few more than 20 minutes on learning about what makes great teaching and have them walk from the Turlington Building (where Thursday’s meeting is being held) down to FSU’s New Classroom Building to see what good teaching is – and how to recruit more great students into teaching.