In this information age, I consider resumes to be such a formality! They are almost standardized and undoubtedly boring to read. For those of you who are looking to evaluate my credibility and love the bullet points that summarize all the time and angst invested in establishing a career, it's cool. We all learn differently, right?
If you find value in the lesser-known facts about people, like their childhood ambitions, their re-routed plans, their successes and failures, their passions and pitfalls, then the following video may be a bit better for you.
Being a chemistry teacher has undoubtedly been my favorite job, and it is the one to which I remain fully committed. However, it's ridiculously more difficult that I had ever imagined it would be!
When I embarked upon this second career, I admittedly expected to endure a challenging first year delivering lessons each day and preparing chemistry lessons each night. After that, I assumed I'd work on autopilot, delivering chemistry lessons each day and grading a few nights a week. Since the content would never change, though, I assumed my lesson plans could be used over and over and over again.
Then, I signed on to teach for a virtual school where both the staff and students work from home. Some might assume that the most challenging aspect of this position would be the obvious limitations: I needed to convey complex concepts using the written word, 2D imagery, videos, and technology apps available on the web. Sure, omitting the wet lab portion of a chemistry course is unsettling. But, the task most difficult for me was competing for the attention of teenagers wrought with the distractions of their home lives.
Suddenly, "engagement" became the obstacle d'jour! Each day, upon reflection, my lessons never felt sufficient to support student success. Each year, I'd "reinvent the wheel" with the hope of realizing greater gains the next time around. Instructional coaching helped me a bit. Being required to structure lessons in a specific way to satisfy the requirements of various annual evaluation criteria also improved my strategies. [Remember -- I was just starting out! Any suggestion was a good suggestion!]
This year (2018-2019) was the only year I've ever repeated my lesson plans, and it was maddening!
Until every one of my students is able to work through the content and achieve their goals, I cannot rest. My mind is always working to rethink the content and revisit documented curricular and instructional best practices in an effort to improve. My principal has, in fact, remarked that reflection is my most valuable asset as a teacher. I'm not sure this attribute -- the tendency to forever look for flaws in order to fix them -- comes naturally to many people; perhaps I received a double portion!
It is to that end that I'm launching this blog and chemistry teaching forum. As I prep for this upcoming year, I will review the recordings of the lessons I've delivered last year while studying new strategies to plan for and implement improvement. I will share it all with you! And, it is my hope that you will share your constructive criticisms and unique ideas with me. In the end, I hope to extract my best practices, strategies, and resources to create specialized professional development courses for aspiring and established chemistry teachers as they seek to serve with excellence in their respective programs.
I'd love for you to join me!