Visiting teaching fellows

Students learning in the Science facilities at the UNSW Kensington campus

In 2017, the School of Physics hosted a visiting teaching fellow for the first time. This has been very successful with the teaching fellow becoming actively engaged in producing resources for professional development for teachers to support the new school syllabus.

A teaching fellow is a current high school physics teacher who works in a secondment position in the School of Physics for one year. Physics teachers in both government and non-government schools are welcome to apply.

The visiting teaching fellow program aims to increase communication and links between schools and universities. The visiting teaching fellow will teach in the first year physics laboratory as well as teaching some first year problem solving workshops and helping students in drop in sessions.

The School of Physics will benefit from learning more about how high school classes are taught and the knowledge basis of our incoming students. We hope that schools will benefit from seeing where some of their students end up and learning about the way we teach students at university.

The visiting teaching fellow will have the opportunity to expand upon and refresh their physics knowledge as well as create useful resources for teachers and schools.

Michael De La Pena (2020)

To say 2020 has been a year of change is an understatement. After several years of teaching physics in schools, taking up something different like the Visiting Teaching Fellowship was always going to be a challenge. The disruption wrought by the pandemic has issued a whole new level of challenges. It has been such an inspiring experience to support teaching and learning in the School of Physics with such dedicated staff.

There have been so many opportunities to participate in the university community. Aside from teaching and learning within the School of Physics, the chance to work in projects across the Faculty of Science has been gratifying, as has been the appreciation of my expertise as a practising teacher.

Personally, it has been a valuable opportunity to refresh and develop my own understanding of physics and physics teaching ­– whether it has been through participating in the School of Physics’ physics education research group PERfECT, to developing physics teaching materials and professional learning courses, to revisiting my own learning from my time long ago as a physics undergraduate.

My time as Visiting Teaching Fellow will not be one that I will soon forget.

Troy Garrett (2019)

I've really enjoyed the chance to work with higher-level physics teaching the first year labs, tutorials and lecturing. It has allowed me to experience, first-hand, what happens at the next level. That, however, has only been a part of my role here. Working in a team to form links between the University and schools to make authentic science research accessible to students from all walks of life, has been the focus of a personal project I have been given the opportunity to develop. Bringing this project into fruition has meant that I have worked to coordinate the efforts of academics from nearly all the schools of science, the NSW Department of Education, NESA, politicians and community groups to make science accessible for all high school students and this has possibly been the most rewarding aspect of my job.

I’ve made friends and professional acquaintances and developed a deep knowledge of how schools and the University are able to work together to increase the learning outcomes for our students.

Jessica Budden (2018)

After many years of classroom teaching, it has been a fabulous opportunity to step sideways into the university environment. I have been able to reconnect with the most up-to-date physics research, learn from world class researchers and see how real-world physics research is done. It has also been fantastic to teach first year students and to gain a better understanding of what my future Year 12 students will go through when they come to university. In addition, I have been able to assist other teachers by developing freely available resources, developing professional development courses and managing projects to connect high-school students with the university.

Overall, I have greatly enjoyed my time at UNSW, I feel like I'm making an important contribution and my knowledge of physics has been extended greatly. I am very much looking forward to bringing the benefits of my experience back to the classroom.

Ingrid Mendes (Inaugural Teaching Fellow, 2017)

When I found out that a visiting teaching fellowship was being offered in Physics I was both scared and tempted. Luckily, the temptation won out because this has been a fantastic opportunity to reconnect with university level physics and embrace academia for a year, collaborating with academics to develop teaching materials as well as applying teaching strategies in running tutorials and laboratories for first year courses. The things I have learned here and the links I have made with UNSW will enable me to help students master the new syllabus and transition confidently to university.

This year has been an exceptional professional development opportunity as I have had to revisit university level physics as well as master the skills necessary to develop online courses. I am currently preparing for a short stint of lecturing in second semester, and I am determined to make the most of this wonderful experience.