Department of Physics & Astronomy


Information for Prospective Secondary School Teachers


Thinking about becoming a high-school or middle-school science teacher?


To find out more about how you can use your degree in physics to become a teacher, meet other students who are on their way to becoming teachers, and learn about fellowship opportunities:
 
* come talk to the credential advisor in the Department of Physics
    and Astronomy:

      
      Adrienne Cool
      416 Thornton Hall
      cool@sfsu.edu
      (415) 338-6450

* visit the Center for Science and Mathematics Education (CSME)


      Science building Room 211 (SCI 211)
      (415) 405-4190
      csme@mail.sfsu.edu
      http://www.csmesf.org     

* while you are there, talk to Jamie Chan

      Jamie Chan
      Program Director
      CSME Teacher Fellowship Program
      Science building Room 211 (SCI 211)
      jmchan@sfsu.edu
      (415) 405-4047

* talk to a faculty member who teaches future high-school science
    teachers in SFSU's credential program


      Lawrence Horvath
      Department of Secondary Education
      Graduate College of Education
      55 Burk Hall
      lhorvath@sfsu.edu
      (415) 338-2693


What support is available for students interested in becoming teachers?

The CSME Teacher Fellowship program offers a wide variety of support to help students explore their interest in becoming K-12 science or math teachers:

* CSME Teacher Fellowships   
    
(up to $1500/semester support for students considering teaching as a career)

* SFSU Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program
    
(supports 10 future STEM teachers at $10,000 per year for up to 3 years)

* intensive peer and staff mentoring

* information about, and support for, applying for external fellowship
    and internship opportunities

* monthly workshops with speakers from local sci/tech museums,
    educational organizations, SFSU faculty, and local in-service K-12
    teachers
  
* numerous community service opportunities in science and mathematics

* private on-campus study center
 


What classes can help me explore my interest in teaching?

Biology 652/Science 652 is an upper division science course intended for undergraduate and graduate science students interested in revisiting and applying their science knowledge, understanding common misconceptions in science, gaining experience in teaching science in the K-12 setting, exploring the field of science teaching as a potential career, and learning science through teaching science. SFSU students engage in service-learning fieldwork through partnerships with SFUSD and Northern San Mateo County school teachers and their students.

Note that this is a limited-enrollment class; interested students will need to fill out a Student Interest Form the semester before they wish to enroll in the course.

For further information, contact:
     
     
Kimberly D. Tanner, Ph.D
      Associate Professor, Department of Biology
      Director, SEPAL:
        The Science Education Partnership and Assessment Laboratory
      http://www.sfsusepal.org/
      kdtanner@sfsu.edu



How do I prepare to become a secondary-school teacher in California?

There are four steps to prepare to be a secondary-school teacher in California:

(1) complete a bachelors degree

      
Any of the SFSU physics degrees may be used to fulfill this requirement.    
       Recommended degree programs for future teachers are the BA in physics
       or the BA in physics with a concentration in astronomy.  More details...

(2) demonstrate competence in your subject area

      
Your knowledge of physics and related material may be demonstrated either
       via coursework or via examinations administered by the state of California.
       What options are available to you depends on which of three possible
       pathways you choose.   More details...


(3) gain experience in a high-school or middle-school classroom

      
This can be accomplished by taking Biology 652/Science 652; this course
       links science students with classroom teachers in the San Francisco Bay
       Area.  Alternatively, students may complete the required hours of
       classroom observation on their own.  Teacher contact lists are available
       from Jamie Chan at CSME.

      
(4) Complete a credential program

      
Students are eligible to apply for a credential program when they have
       completed steps (1)-(3) above (or will complete them by the time they would
       enter the program).  SFSU offers a 1-year full-time credential program.
       It is also possible to complete the credential program in two years, part-time,
       while already teaching high school.  Other universities in the Bay Area and
       beyond also offer credential programs.


  
Note that while it is possible to teach private school with just a
   bachelors degree, most private schools prefer that their teachers
   have the same credentials required by public schools.





What classes should I take if I want to be a physics teacher?


The answer to this question depends on what you want to teach.  High-school physics teachers need to be able to teach other subjects as well.  It is generally recommended to combine physics with general science.  It is also possible to combine physics with mathematics.

(1)  PHYSICS WITH GENERAL SCIENCE

Students who want to combine physics with general science can follow one of the following two programs of study which combine a degree in physics with the coursework required to complete the approved "Single Subject Matter Program" in physics

  Recommended sequence with BA in Physics   
 
  Recommended sequence with BA in Physics,
      
Concentration in Astronomy   

   
Students who complete one of these course sequences do NOT have to take the CSET examinations.

(2)  PHYSICS WITH MATHEMATICS

Students who which instead to combine physics with mathematics will need to complete two CSET examinations in physics before entering a credential program.  Any of the physics majors can be pursued.   To demonstrate competence to teach mathematics in combination with physics, there are several alternatives. Students who choose this path may find it helpful to add a math minor to their physics major.  The minor requires 24 units of coursework in mathematics.  


What will I be able to teach once I have a credential?

This depends on which of three options you choose for how to demonstrate your competence in physics and related material.  You can be certified to teach (1) physics at any level along with general science through the 9th grade level; (2) physics only (not recommended since high schools need teachers who can teach more than just physics); or (3) physics plus math.  For the latter pathway, it is recommended that students complete a math minor along with their physics major.

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Which physics degree is right for me if I want to be a high-school teacher?

Any of SFSU's physics degrees will prepare you to teach high-school physics.  However, the BA degrees are generally recommended for future teachers, as they leave sufficient space in a 4-year program of study to enable students to add coursework in other sciences and/or in math.  To be employable by most high schools, prospective teachers need to be able to teach general science (through 9th grade level) or mathematics along with physics.  BS degrees are designed for students who plan to go on to graduate work in physics or astronomy.  They are also excellent preparation for teaching physics, but additional units in math or other sciences may be needed to prepare to enter a credential program.

Students who complete a Masters degree in physics can be certified to teach high-school physics at any level after completing a credential program.  However, they too will want to prepare themselves to teach either mathematics or other sciences as well.




What options do I have for demonstrating competence in my subject matter(s)?


Students who wish to become high-school physics teachers have three choices.  The first of these, which qualifies you to teach general science along with physics, is the pathway recommended in most cases.  The second route qualifies you to teach only physics; it is allowable but not recommended, as nearly all high schools require that their physics teachers be able to teach at least one other subject in addition to physics.  The third route combines physics with mathematics instead of general science.

(1) PHYSICS + GENERAL SCIENCE

This option leads to a so-called "Single Subject Teaching Credential in Science: Physics" once a student has completed a credential program (step (4) above).  This is the pathway that is generally recommended, as it enables you to teach not only high-school physics (at any level) but also general science through the 9th grade level.  Few if any high schools teach enough physics classes to employ a teacher who can teach only physics, so it is important to be certified to teach other subjects as well. 


For this option, you can demonstrate competence in one of two ways:

    (i)  by completing a sequence of courses that make up the approved
         "Single Subject Matter Program" in physics at SFSU, in consultation
         with an advisor.  Most (though not all) of the "depth" courses in this
         program are incorporated in any of the physics degrees.  The "breadth"
         coursework consists of mainly lower-division courses in other sciences. 
         Students who complete this program are not required to take the
         "California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET)" exams.

     ii) by passing the following three CSET examinations:

         * Science Subtest I:  General Science (test code 118)
         * Science Subtest II:  General Science (test code 119)
         * Science Subtest III:  Physics (test code 123)

(2) PHYSICS "SPECIALIZED"

One can enter the credential program having demonstrated competence only in physics.  However, this option certifies you to teach physics only and is therefore NOT a recommended pathway to becoming a teacher.  Few if any high schools teach enough physics classes to be able to employ a teacher who only teaches physics.  This option can be made viable by combining it with a certification    in another subject (e.g., mathematics---see option (3) below).

This option leads to what is called a "Single Subject Teaching Credential in Physics (Specialized)" once the student has completed the credential program.  Competence is demonstrated by passing the following two CSET examinations:

         * Science Subtest III:  Physics (test code 123)
         * Science Subtest IV:  Physics (Specialized) (test code 127)



(3) PHYSICS "SPECIALIZED" + MATHEMATICS


There are three alternatives for pursuing this option, which enables you to teach both physics and mathematics.  Regardless of which option is chosen, students considering this route may wish to increase their knowledge of mathematics by completing a minor in math along with their major in physics.  Math courses should be chosen in consultation with an advisor familiar with the CSET examinations.

This option leads to a "Single Subject Teaching Credential in Physics (Specialized) and Mathematics" once the student has completed the credential program.  To demonstrate competence to teach physics, the following CSET examinations are required:

     * Science Subtest III:  Physics (test code 123)
     * Science Subtest IV:   Physics (Specialized) (test code 127)

In conjunction with the "Single Subject Teaching Credential in Physics (Specialized)," there are three alternatives for demonstrating subject-matter competence in mathematics:

(i)  Complete 32 units of mathematics courses to be eligible to teach all K-12
      math.  This option, which requires 8 units of math beyond the minor,
      exempts students from having to take the CSET examinations in
      mathematics.  Coursework must be approved by an advisor.

(ii)  Complete the following CSET examinations in mathematics to be eligible
       to teach all K-12 math:

        * Mathematics Subtest I  (test code 110)
        * Mathematics Subtest II  (test code 111)
        * Mathematics Subtest III  (test code 112)

(iii)  Complete the following CSET examinations in mathematics to be eligible
        to teach "Foundational Level Math," which includes a subset of K-12 math
        courses:

        * Mathematics Subtest I  (test code 110)
        * Mathematics Subtest II  (test code 111)




Approved "Single Subject Matter Program" (SSMP) in physics


This is a program of coursework approved in June 2010 by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.  Students who complete this program do NOT have to take the CSET examinations to demonstrate competence in their subject area.  This program is thus also known as the "waiver" program, as completion of it waives the CSET examination requirement.

The SSMP coursework  consists of a group of "depth" courses and a group of "breadth" courses.  The "depth" courses are primarily physics courses that are part of every SFSU bachelors degree program in physics.  Those depth courses that are not required courses in the major can be taken as electives.  The "breadth" courses are primarily lower-division courses in sciences other than physics.  Some of these can count towards GE requirements.

Recommended course sequences to complete the SSMP along with a physics
major are as follows:


  Recommended sequence with BA in Physics   
 
  Recommended sequence with BA in Physics,
      
Concentration in Astronomy   

   




Depth courses required in the approved SSMP in physics at SFSU


PHYS 220/222 General Physics with Calculus I with Lab 4*
fall or spring
PHYS 230/232 General Physics with Calculus II with Lab 4*
fall or spring
PHYS 240/242
General Physics with Calculus III with Lab 4*
fall or spring
PHYS 320 Modern Physics I 3*
fall
PHYS 321 Modern Physics Lab 2*
fall
ASTR 405 or
 
SCI 510
Astrobiology or
   
Search for Solutions
3**
spring
PHYS 490 or
 
ASTR 498
Physics Project Laboratory or
 
Research Literature in Astronomy
2**
spring
SCI 652
SFSU Science Partners in K-12 Schools 
4**
fall
PHYS 695
Culminating Experience in Physics
1*
spring

TOTAL DEPTH UNITS
27


* course is required in all physics degree programs
** course may be taken to fulfill elective requirements for physics degree
      programs





Breadth courses required in the approved SSMP in physics at SFSU


ASTR 115 or
 
ASTR 300
Introduction to Astronomy or
 
Stars, Planets, and the Milky Way
3
fall or spring;
  spring
ASTR 116 or
 
ASTR 301
Astronomy Laboratory or
 
Observational Astronomy Lab
1-2
fall or spring;
  fall
GEOL 110 Physical Geology 4
fall or spring
CHEM 115 General Chemistry I with Lab 5
fall or spring
BIOL 230 Introduction to Biology I with Lab
5
fall or spring
BIOL 240 Introduction to Biology II with Lab
5
fall or spring
GEOL/METR/OCN 405 Planetary Climate Change 4
fall

TOTAL BREADTH UNITS 27-28


Note that 6 units of physical science and 3 units of biological
science class can be counted toward GE Segment II requirements.
 




Recommended sequence for combining "BA in Physics" with Single-Subject Matter Program in Physics (in preparation for a teacher credential in physics)


year in program
FALL
SPRING



YEAR 1
MATH 226
MATH 227
""
ASTR 115/116
PHYS 200/222
""
CHEM 115
GEOL 110



YEAR 2
MATH 228
MATH 245
""
PHYS 230/232
PHYS 240/242
""
BIOL 230
BIOL 240



YEAR 3
PHYS 320/321
PHYS 360
""
PHYS 330
PHYS 370
""
PHYS 385




YEAR 4
PHYS 490
PHYS 491
""
GEOL/METR/OCN 405
PHYS 695
""
SCI 652
ASTR 405





Recommended sequence for combining "BA in Physics: Concentration in Astronomy" with Single-Subject Matter Program in Physics (in preparation for a teacher credential in physics)


year in program
FALL
SPRING



YEAR 1
MATH 226
MATH 227
""
ASTR 115
PHYS 220/222
""
CHEM 115
GEOL 110



YEAR 2
MATH 228
MATH 245
""
PHYS 230/232
PHYS 240/242
""
BIOL 230
BIOL 232



YEAR 3
PHYS 320
ASTR 300
""
PHYS 321
ASTR 340
""
ASTR 301




YEAR 4
GEOL/METR/OCN 405
ASTR 405
""
SCI 652
PHYS 695





Credential advisors


       Adrienne Cool
       Department of Physics and Astronomy
       416 Thornton Hall
       cool@sfsu.edu
       (415) 338-6450
       http://www.physics.sfsu.edu/~cool

       Eric Hsu
       Department of Mathematics
       Science Building, Room 211
       erichsu@sfsu.edu
       510-224-4604
       http://math.sfsu.edu/hsu

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