I’m teaching two different semester MSON chemistry courses – Intro to Organic Chemistry and Advanced Topics in Chemistry – for the first time this year. I’ve found the chance to expose students to topics in chemistry not often taught at the high school level to be exciting and a lot of fun. There are many different facets to chemistry and science and it’s fun to showcase different approaches as well as exercise my mental muscles on that front as well. The students in class are engaged and ready participants as we roll through the material, and I’ve enjoyed working with them and getting to know them.
I’ve been very fortunate in that I inherited this course from David Walker, a teacher who originated these courses for MSON several years ago. He generously shared much of his materials with me, meaning that I benefited in a host of ways. I entered the year with a template of pacing and topics that has worked well in the past and I have a treasure trove of slides he prepared for his organic video lectures. The first year has still been a lot of work. Getting reoriented with material that I haven’t worked with on a daily basis in a long time, making my own video lecture library, and getting acclimated to all the technology needed for classes and tests are all still a lot of work.
One surprisingly easy part of acclimation I wasn’t expecting is how easy it is to let go of making “perfect” video lectures and rather embrace human foibles and showing a bit of personality. This carried over to the classroom as well, where I ended up insisting (to my students’ occasional chagrin) that we were all going to be “on mic” for the class. As a result, over the semester, my MSON classroom started to feel more and more like just one of my classrooms, not my “MSON classroom”. I’m excited to work with the next group of students in the spring in my Advanced Topics in Chemistry course.