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Congratulations to Frank Noschese-2011 PAEMST Awardee

June 12, 2012

Though I doubt there are many followers of my blog who are not also followers of Frank Noschese, I still want to take a moment to heap great gobs of praise on him for being named a 2011 Presidential Awardee for Excellence in Science and Math Teaching (PAEMST). I’ve said it many times before, but Frank is the glue that keeps much of the physics twitter-blogosphere together, and increasingly, he is a vital voice in the national debate about education reform. Just watch his inspiring TEDxNYED talk from this past April:

Frank is a teacher who fights passionately to advance the cause of good, reflective teaching, teaching that happens when you free teachers from the bonds of pre-scripted curricula and allow them to innovate. He takes advantage of every opportunity to elevate our profession. Just look at his short quote in his PAEMST bio. When most people talk about how humbled they are to receive the award, blah, blah, Frank uses the moment to look beyond himself and push us to take action that will help to preserve exemplary teaching. Bravo.

The Presidential Award recognizes that being a great science teacher isn’t about being a great explainer, but rather is about fostering scientific inquiry, taking risks with new instructional methods to engage students, and continuously reflecting and sharing successes and failures with others. However, in a time when standardized tests are frequently being used determine the worth of teachers, I fear that such exemplary teaching will fall by the wayside along with students’ love of learning.

Frank’s blogs are must reads. His Noschese180 Posterous blog is the perfect example of the incredible benefit just taking a photo and writing a paragraph of text about one’s teaching every day can bring both to one’s personal practice and the larger teaching community—it is a gold mine of ideas for teaching physics and chemistry. His older, WordPress blog, Action-Reaction is equally valuable, and filled with sharp and thoughtful critiques of ed-tech, killer ideas for physics lessons, and starts with perhaps the most honest, insightful and personally haunting post I’ve ever read.

On a personal note, I am deeply grateful to Frank for his friendship and support. He was one of the very first people to start following my blog, and was just to say yes a couple of years ago to trying to get our classes to Skype together to measure the circumference of the earth. He’s a celebrity to my students who engage with him on twitter and loved it when he joined in our class as a virtual coach.

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