June 2023: David Byrum
Ruamrudee International School, Bangkok, Thailand
- Member since 1989
- Head of Department Science, Retired
- Bangkok, Thailand
I taught for 41 years before retiring with the last 9.5 years of teaching in Bangkok Thailand. Prior to that, I taught for 5 years in Tucson, AZ, then 8 years in Globe, AZ, and then back to Tucson for 18 more years. Initially, I taught all Chemistry classes, then in Globe, besides Chemistry, I began my journey as a Physics teacher where over the years at different schools I taught regular HS Physics, IB Physics, and College Technical Physics. Teaching both Chemistry and Physics was a great combination as I got to see students for 2 years and to encourage the Chemistry students to take Physics. In Globe, this resulted in the enrollment of girls going from 0% my first year there to ~50% my last 4-5 years there. At my last school in Tucson Physics enrollment went from 1 class to 5 classes during my years there.
While in Tucson I had the opportunity to have many student teachers which put me in touch with folks in the Chemistry & Physics Departments at the University of Arizona. This led to teaching for the College of Education teacher preparation program and then for 3 years as the Physics Teacher in Residence for the PhysTec program at the University of Arizona. What made teaching Physics great were the students who take Physics, the challenge for the teacher of learning new concepts and then figuring out how to organize the instruction so the students can learn them. The students make the life of a teacher exciting, enjoyable, challenging, and fun. Once they come to realize that learning Physics is doable and that they can have fun and enjoy the experience, the class becomes something that they look forward to every day. One of the topics that former Arizona graduates always asked about was the “Physics of Snow Skiing” unit that we did. And of course, what is being learned must be applied, so a day was spent on the ski slopes learning to apply what was taught about momentum, friction, torque, etc. Alas, there were no accessible mountains with snow in Thailand. Science is a verb, so it’s the doing that is important, both for the students and for the teacher. My AAPT membership provided me an opportunity to learn from others via The Physics Teacher publication, conferences, and workshops, and for me to support the profession by being a member.