Teaching the Teachers
But coming from the business world, Goodman felt that a good idea that can’t scale isn’t a good idea, because it will have limited impact.
“So we decided to teach the teachers. Teachers already know how to teach–they just didn’t know physics.â€
Just as he believes all students can learn, he believed that the teachers could learn as well. So using the same coursework he used with his students, Goodman, CTL, and other physics teachers taught New Jersey teachers how to teach physics. The neophyte physics teachers were also given a year of support by meeting with them one night a week and every third Saturday. Thirty-nine of the original 42 teachers stuck with the program and, Goodman says, “They find it’s more fun than what they were teaching before.â€ Eight of the state’s top 20 schools were taught by these teachers.
One-third of the teachers are black or Hispanic; 48% are women. The student bodies are also diverse–some are 71% black and Hispanic and low income.
Goodman has refined the program over the years. “The students take the first half of Advanced Placement physics in the first year,â€ he says. “Many go on to take AP physics and chemistry in the second year.â€
There’s no silver bullet, but clearly this program is working. “People think that challenging students makes them unhappy,â€ says Goodman, “when it’s really just the opposite.â€
For more information about the Center for Teaching and Learning and its Progressive Science Initiative and Progressive Math Initiative coursework, go to https://njctl.org/.