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The Highlander

New physics teacher Mr. Kin: A force to be reckoned with

Physics teacher Joseph Kin begins his first year teaching at McLean
New physics teacher Joseph Kin explains the warm up for his Physics 1 class. Kin frequently uses math-focused warm-ups in class, using review of past material to make the learning of new physics concepts easier.

While many students cower in fear at the idea of taking physics, McLean’s newest teacher Joseph Kin is up to the challenge. Despite being a first year teacher, Kin’s experience tutoring physics in college leaves him optimistic for his future in teaching.
“I’ve noticed over the years that I have a knack for simplifying physics concepts that people think are crazy and complicated,” Kin said. “I have a way of making them understandable.”
For Kin, his love of physics has been long standing. While many students struggle with finding a career path they care about, Kin has felt passion for physics since he took the class in high school.
“It’s all problem solving, it’s a different way of thinking,” Kin said. “Instead of trying to memorize a bunch of things, you’re really trying to understand what you’re learning.”
While the sciences are not for everyone, many students have noticed the difference that a passionate teacher can have on the delivery of curriculum.
“Science isn’t my favorite subject, but I think that if a teacher can make physics seem interesting to kids who don’t like science that much, that’s definitely a bonus,” junior Emily Reisman said.
In terms of how he delivers curriculum effectively, Kin believes that accessibility is the key for students’ success. While he may be new to teaching, he understands the difficulty of certain physics concepts and how conveying them clearly is crucial.
“Giving them multiple avenues or languages to understand what the concepts are,” Kin said. “Just being able to deliver the message in as many ways as possible I think is important for physics.”
In many classes, it is easy to fall into the same mundane pattern of writing down, memorizing and plugging in formulas, with students having hardly any understanding of why they are used. However, Kin believes that physics is all about going beyond memorization and into the world of theory and logic. He argues that understanding of a problem is a crucial first step before attempting to solve it.
“He pushes you to dig deeper into content and dig deeper into formulas, [basically] using logic to follow a pattern,” Reisman said.
As every student has a different teaching style that works for them, it can be intimidating as a new teacher to try and navigate the sea of new students and their various needs. Despite this, many of Kin’s students have noticed that his approach to teaching has made their transition into physics smoother than expected.
“It’s a very relaxed classroom environment,” senior Marie-Odette de Marcellus said. “I was expecting it from day one to be very serious but so far it’s been really fun, I’ve enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.”
Kin’s classes focus specifically on achieving a deeper level understanding of the math and processes involved in physics, applying it to real life situations in order to cement the knowledge in the minds of his students.
“A lot of what’s important is being precise with the language you use,” Kin said. “Understanding what words actually mean, understanding what’s valuable to what you’re trying to understand, and just breaking it down into its simplest parts is what makes physics work.”
One of the ways in which Kin helps students break down physics concepts is through daily problem-solving with an emphasis on cooperation.
“We usually start the day with some problem-solving where you use past knowledge and apply it to real-life situations,” de Marcellus said. “Then you work with your table buddies…it’s a really great way to start your physics class. It’s also really fun seeing the math being applied in real-life situations.”
As far as his transition to McLean has been, Kin has on the whole been pleased with the effort and knowledge presented to him by each student. In addition, he has received notable reactions from Highlanders towards his lessons.
“I’ve heard more thank-you’s in the last week than I’ve heard ever in my life,” Kin said.
Despite the apprehension shared by most students towards physics, Kin is determined to help his students understand the challenging subject through cooperative and clarifying teaching strategies. He may be new to teaching, but his popular methods of engaging students promise a lasting impact.
“[So far] it’s just been solving problems inside the class,” de Marcellus said. “Everyone’s doing the work together, which creates a fun environment where people get the work done while learning.”

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