To celebrate the 75'th anniversary of the founding of the American Association of Physics Teachers, the members selected 75 physics teachers to write about what they thought was important to the future of physics education. I was honored to be chosen.
I wrote about the importance of having mentors. As I learned to be a better physics teacher I had several extraordinary mentors: Tony French, George Benedek, Paul Tipler, and Phil and Phylis Morrison. Of course, I learned from many others in conversations and by reading their publications, but these people took the time to engage me in long-term study of teaching. I would try to teach something, and then discuss my efforts with them, their insights would always help me become a better teacher. Recently, thanks to a grant from the NSF I have become a mentor to three post docs who want to become better physics teachers. Now I realize that my mentors not only taught me physics and how to teach it, but also, by their role modeling, they taught me to be a mentor.
So my advice to young science teachers is this, the best way to become a better science teacher is to teach and then discuss your teaching with colleagues. Through these discussions you will find your own mentors and eventually grow to become a mentor yourself.
Paul Doherty December 2006
Scientific Explorations with Paul Doherty
8 September 2007