Teaching is a challenging but exciting calling where you will make a difference not only for your students but for your community. In additional to that, the United States has a severe, long-term shortage of qualified physics teachers.
Teacher preparation at SPU
Learning Assistant program
One way SPU supports prospective teachers is through the Learning Assistant program. This program allows prospective teachers to develop important teaching practices, strategies, and dispositions in the scaffolded environment of our active-learning physics courses.
Secondary science teachers
Prospective physics teachers at SPU earn a bachelor’s degree in Physics and a certification with secondary physics endorsement through the School of Education. If you are interested in becoming a physics teacher, you are encouraged to pursue the bachelor of arts in Physics with an Education Emphasis. Prospective teachers who already hold a bachelor’s degree can also pursue certification concurrently with a graduate education degree. You will be mentored by a faculty member in the Physics Department and an advisor in the School of Education throughout your time at SPU. For more information, contact Dr. Lane Seeley.
Elementary science teachers
Prospective elementary teachers interested in science at SPU earn a bachelor’s degree in Integrated Studies with an emphasis in the Natural Sciences and a certification in elementary education through the School of Education. You will be mentored by a faculty member in the Physics Department and an advisor in the School of Education throughout your years at SPU. For more information, contact Dr. Kara Gray.
Research on Teaching and Learning
Research on teaching and learning physics is a driving principle behind the structure and implementation of all courses in the SPU Physics Department. SPU physics faculty, undergraduates, and visiting scholars routinely engage in cutting-edge research on teaching and learning physics. We also strive to both model and teach this research and teaching practices to our prospective teachers.
Teacher professional development
The SPU Physics Department has extensive experience creating nationally recognized professional development courses for teachers. The guiding philosophy behind our teacher professional development courses is the concept of a diagnostic learning environment (DLE).
A diagnostic learning environment is a classroom or informal learning environment in which learner knowledge and/or skills are accessed, assessed, interpreted, and attended to in subsequent activities in an effort to improve understanding and performance of the learner. Like other learning environments, a DLE seeks deep learning of the discipline alongside the development of habits of mind and critical-thinking skills required for the discipline.
Professional Development Resources
The SPU Physics Department has been recognized by several organizations for our ongoing work with local practicing teachers through summer workshops, academic year teacher learning communities, and close collaborations. If you are a teachers interested in partnering with the department, please contact Dr. Lezlie DeWater.