Arizona State University Department of Physics Teacher-in-Residence Kelli Warble is concerned about the state of physics education in Arizona. In a lecture she gave as a featured speaker for the Harvard PoLS-T Network in March, she shared with teachers how they can make a difference to improve the situation.
Warble started out as a high school physics teacher, then eventually joined ASU in fall 2012 as a teacher-in-residence. She pursued her master's degree in science and technology at the university while working on the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) program, and from 2018 to 2019, Warble helped develop the Master Teacher Policy Fellowship, which brings teachers to Washington, D.C., to advocate for education issues.
“They came to D.C. as cohorts of teachers to discuss their issue and visit the various agencies around the Washington, D.C., area and get advice, and tried to take action on whatever their policy issue was in their local state,” she said.
“Unfortunately, I don't know if it's going to have a big effect," Warble said. "There's still a really large shortage in physics teachers in the state of Arizona, and physics courses are being canceled all the time. So part of my talk was about how policies don't always have to be legislative policies. Sometimes you might just be questioning the policies at your school, (such as), ‘Is the bell schedule established?,' 'Is that good for science education?,' ... 'Are they really making the lab space good for your purposes as an educator?’ or 'Are they consulting with teachers about what's appropriate?'"
Warble feels that ASU has begun to make progress on this issue with programs such as modeling workshops through the American Modeling Teachers Association.
“It's a grassroots group of STEM teachers working together to improve their instruction," Warble said. "It was just physics, now it's chemistry and biology and middle school science and all kinds of teachers in the organization. I think that ASU has a lot to be proud of as far as encouraging education and making sure teachers are trained and ready to teach their courses.”
Video courtesy of the ASU Department of Physics