Lots of exciting teaching experiences this week including what is probably my career highlight so far. I was asked to be a speaker for the Sophomore class meeting and ended up singing about engagement to a gymnasium full of 850 students, their teachers, and the admin team!
Teaching - the imperfect science
One of my favorite descriptions of teaching comes from the 2014 Minnesota Teacher of the Year, Tom Rademacher. When I saw him speak last year, he described teaching as a beautifully impossible task. This has always resonated with me as it applies to every aspect of the teaching profession that I have experienced so far. I'm used to the engineering world where problems have answers and decisions are driven clearly by what the data says. Teaching is not that. There are hundreds of ways to approach every teaching choice that has to be made. When teaching students about the Doppler Effect in the physics of sound unit, I wasn't happy with the way that I originally presented the equation and how to choose whether to add or subtract to appropriately model the situation. My first shot at this left students with the impression that if you add on top you have to subtract on bottom and vice versa. This is true if the source and observer are moving in opposite directions (toward or away from each other) but it breaks down if they are both moving the same direction. In my reapproach of this problem, I broke it down to two questions: "Is observer moving toward source?" and "Is source moving toward the observer?" This helped clear up any issues that students were having. I'm looking forward to next year so I can present the Doppler Effect this way to start out! I can't imagine how many iterations I will be able to fit in over my next 30 years of teaching. :)
Teaching with iPads
Full Length Mirrors - Can you answer this question?
Speaking at the Sophomore Class meeting
Every year, the Sophomores select a faculty speaker to say a few words at their class meeting. I was very honored to have been selected as the speaker this year. The class is over 850 students strong this year and in an effort to accommodate everyone, the meeting had to be held in the gym (the auditorium wasn't big enough).
I didn't have much time to fill but I wanted to make it a memorable experience for the students so I decided to write my speech in the form of a song. :) Presenting, "True Skipper"
Father, Physics Teacher, Knowles Fellow, Friend, Techie, and Musician