IOP celebrates Teacher Training Scholars as they learn together at annual event

13 September 2017

Reflection, building relationships and communicating were the top tips given by past IOP Teacher Training Scholar Nadia Nair to the latest cohort of scholars at the first of two celebration events.

IOP celebrates Teacher Training Scholars as they learn together at annual event

Scholars gathered at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London for the first of two annual events celebrating the year’s successful candidates. The second of this year’s events will take place in Manchester on 16 September.

Scholarships are funded by the Department for Education and scholars are selected in a competitive process to receive £30,000 of tax-free funding as well as IOP support and membership during their training year. The Institute offered scholarships to 139 candidates for 2017/8.

IOP celebrates Teacher Training Scholars as they learn together at annual event

The annual events give the scholars an opportunity to begin to build a valuable network of peer support as they enter teacher training. It also gives them the chance to learn from the experiences of a former scholar and gain advice and tips for their year ahead from the IOP education team.

Nadia, a career changer with a background in engineering and research, had returned to share her experiences of her training year with scholars about to start their own teacher-training.

Mentioning the masterclasses and supertrip events available to scholars, Nadia said: “I went for almost every one. My advice would be to go for as many as you can. These courses run by the IOP are brilliant. It’s also fun – the IOP has made science teaching fun for me and changed my perspective. When learning’s fun you get the kids on your side.”

Speaking after the event, Nadia explained why she’d returned to share her experiences with new scholars: “The IOP helped me so much, it was something I could give back,” she said. “I felt supported throughout my training year. You feel quite lucky being a scholar.”

IOP celebrates Teacher Training Scholars as they learn together at annual event

Our head of education, Charles Tracy, had opened the day by taking the opportunity provided by the venue to highlight commonalities between the disciplines of architecture and physics – that Christopher Wren was arguably as much a physicist as he was an architect, and that his one-time assistant, Robert Hooke, was undoubtedly both.

Reflecting further on Hooke, his contemporary Newton, and the physics-like approaches that emerged from the enlightenment era, Charles said: “All students are entitled to seeing those ways of thinking exemplified, and to an authentic experience of physics with a specialist physics teacher. We know that the quality of experience in the classroom depends on the person standing in front of it – that’s where you all come in.

“Teaching – in the sense of passing on understanding – is a hugely worthwhile, enjoyable and rewarding occupation.”

Charles noted that as new IOP members, scholars belong to the same organisation as eminent people such as Professor Peter Higgs and Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell. “As scholars you are part of a community of physicists,” he said. “Teaching physics is doing physics.”

IOP celebrates Teacher Training Scholars as they learn together at annual event

Capital Physics coach Joanna Kent (pictured left) and teaching and learning coach (TLC) Lawrence Cattermole followed with a discussion of the support available to scholars during their training year; TLC Neil Atkin showed how physics can be used to challenge the phenomenon of fake news, using a tablecloth pull as an example; and scholars had the opportunity to practise a physics trick – making a hovercraft from a balloon and an old CD, as demonstrated in number 44 of the popular Marvin & Milo cartoon series.

Our teacher support manager, Chris Shepherd, drew upon 18 years of teaching experience to share with new scholars what they might expect over the coming year, focusing on creativity, acceptance, resilience, and extracurricular activities. He said: “It’s fundamental to being human, creativity.”

IOP celebrates Teacher Training Scholars as they learn together at annual event

Chris advised the scholars to be resilient – they should experiment but be aware that not everything they try out will always work, recounting an example of an experiment that involved trying to cook bacon in the classroom.

Speaking after the event, IOP marketing executive Nicole Averiss, who organised the celebration days, said: “We’re delighted to welcome the next cohort of scholars to the programme. There is so much physics subject knowledge and experience in this room; it’s exciting to think about the positive impact that these teachers are going to have in schools to help develop the next generation of physicists and engineers. We’re looking forward to working with them throughout their scholarship year, and beyond.”