Physics Teachers Are Awesome

I’ve started a project that brings me joy. I’m hoping to help spread that around!

I was looking around for ways that I could support physics teachers who were working so hard to teach during this pandemic. I was reflecting on how I miss the interactions and feedback I used to be a part of during the Global Physics Department heydays and I settled on trying to get a little taste of our old “submit a video of your teaching and we’ll give you feedback.”

So for over a month now I have committed to spending a part of every week(work) day making a reaction video to a physics teacher’s video they’ve made public. You can see the full playlist (37 long as of this morning) here. I look for videos made by teachers that don’t have students in them (privacy reasons even if they’re public) that are lectures, homework solutions, or worked examples. I don’t tend to react to “welcome to my class videos.” My guiding principles are:

  • Lift teachers up
  • Share interesting/funny anecdotes about my teaching and physics in general
  • Open up opportunities for fun conversations about teaching

For the first one, I will often re-read one of my favorite posts about academic bullying. There I talk about how hard newer teachers have it when they run into online folks who seem to have it all figured out. They can be quite intimidated and find sharing their struggles to be difficult. So I figured that if I’m nearly uniformly positive and supportive of their work I can be helpful. I guess you can judge for yourself.

The second bullet comes pretty naturally. These awesome teachers show me cool solutions to problems I’ve had in the past and I’m happy to share funny stories about lessons I’ve learned. I also find that I often tie in ideas of how physics is used/seen in the wild because the teachers prime me for that.

This post is really about the third bullet above. While I’ve had a little interaction on twitter and youtube comments, I would love to talk with folks about teaching. I tend to seed each video with questions I still have about different ways to approach things and I’d love to hear more about what folks think.

So I thought I’d try a slightly different approach. In addition to randomly searching youtube for vids to react to, I thought I could let people volunteer themselves, both to have me react to them but also to be willing to debrief with up to four other physics teachers who I’ve reacted to. A twitter friend, @TadThurston, did exactly that and we have since had several conversations, both on twitter and through a google meet call, that has been so fun.

So I’m proposing that folks use this google form to volunteer and once I react to them I’ll reach out to them along with the four other people I react to in the same week to try to schedule a “physics debrief” where we can talk about physics teaching and lift each other up.

Thoughts? Here are some starters for you:

  • You reacted to me and I thought it was great. What I especially liked was . . .
  • You reacted to me and I sent you a cease and desist order, did you get it yet?
  • This is cool, but I think you should also consider . . .
  • This is a brazen rip off of . . .
  • Can you handle vids where I walk students through how to use python? (yes)
  • I’ve watched a few of these and your breathing is really loud
  • I really like it when you notice things like the tech we’re using
  • Get a green screen, will you!
  • This doesn’t sound like work, stop using work time to do it (I know what your office looks like)
  • Can I request you to react to several vids? (sure!)

About Andy Rundquist

Professor of physics at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN
This entry was posted in glodal physics department, online class, physics, screencasting, syllabus creation, teaching, twitter. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Physics Teachers Are Awesome

  1. Mr. John says:

    I am so totally going to do this!

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