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Starting a PLT

September 10, 2010
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One of the things I’ve been asked to do is lead a Professional Learning Team of our 5 physics teachers. Unfortunately, the schedule prevents us from having common meetings, so at most, only 3 of us can meet. Which got me thinking, This PLT needs a blog!

My previous professional life was working with colleagues where we saw things so eye-to-eye that we could say, Hey Mark, can you teach my 1st period tomorrow, and he could hop right in and my students would barely notice the difference. Now, I’m in a larger department we have a much bigger diversity in terms of teaching philosophy, experience, pedagogy and expertise. Some of us hate the AP, others think AP-C is a perfect pinnacle for a student’s high school career. Some of us hate labs, and really excel at theory work, others are in the lab tinkering all day. Needless to say, this makes for a department with a wide range of ideas, but we’re not exactly all on the same page (or even in the same book, or even on the same wavelength about using a book).

So I’m really excited about this, but nervous about how to bring us together to help strengthen some of our common ties. My first thought was to start with the question

What are the essential understandings that we want every graduate of our physics classes to master?

From there, I was thinking of trying to see if we can work together to develop some assessments to measure these essential understandings, and then some lessons to teach this (stole all this from you, Kevin Mattingly). Of course, when some of our understandings are about the nature of what physics is (such a good goal), developing an assessment of this and a way to teach it is going to be a challenge.

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