February 2022: Matt Bryant
South Warren High School, Bowling Green, Kentucky
- Member since 1999
- Physics Teacher
- Bowling Green, Kentucky
My family and I watched science fiction together as I grew up, and as a kid, I remember my parents always supporting my interest in science and reading. I remember going to the public library and learning I could write NASA officials in Florida. They would send free informational cards and pamphlets about the space program in the mail—what a wonder for a young kid like me! My family was certainly an early reason I decided to pursue physics education. Teaching physics is a way for me to blend my love for cool science and a passion for helping others understand and appreciate it as well. Additionally, I was fortunate to participate in a special undergraduate program at Kent State University that paired me with my cooperating teacher, Dr. Jon Secaur, for three semesters—the last one being my student teaching. Jon provided further inspiration on what it meant to become a caring and effective physics teacher.
In my first teaching job in Akron, OH, I was lucky to be at a school that encouraged teachers to seek professional development opportunities. I joined AAPT in 1999, the same year I began teaching full-time, and attended my first conference in the summer of 2000 at the University of Guelph. There I learned what a joy it was to be around a bunch of other folks interested in physics and teaching. I kept up with AAPT’s Physics Teacher publication and learned the importance of continuing professional development and connecting to other passionate physics teachers. I was the sole physics teacher at my school for the first few years, and the AAPT provided me with an important learning community.
Because of my professional experiences, starting with that early connection to the AAPT, I learned better ways to teach inspire students to take 2nd-year physics courses in high school, demonstrations, student lab challenges, and more recently, pedagogies and assessment strategies. For example, I attended a workshop – “Introduction to Modeling Instruction, a PER-based Curricula” at the 2020 APPT Winter Meeting in Orlando. I was very thankful for this long-awaited opportunity to learn more about modeling instruction methods, and it has transformed the way I teach my physics courses. Many modelers also use a standard-based assessment version, and I began doing so last year. This year (2021-2022), I have completely switched to modeling teaching methods. My students and I love both changes that have renewed my enthusiasm for teaching!
Here in Bowling Green, KY, I am part of a local Physics Teachers Alliance supported by Western Kentucky University that meets a few times a year to share ideas and learn from each other about how to teach and inspire our students. I look forward to continuing to serve on the AAPT Committee on High School Teaching for the next few years, as well as being a STEP UP Advocate in my courses. I plan to present at the spring meeting of the Kentucky Association of Physics Teachers and look forward to attending the 2022 AAPT Summer Meeting in Grand Rapids, MI.