Stop the presses – I was out sick last week! But at least with on-line study I didn’t have to bring the teacher a note from the doctor and at my age I didn’t have to convince my parents that I was too sick to study. By Monday I was back at it, fueled by test anxiety and dreams of greatness.
I did much better this time on my chapter test, mostly due to over-preparation. I did not realize that the test materials included the Periodic Table, a List of Equations, and the Standard Reduction Potentials. On my next test I will have to strike a medium between the extremes of over-kill and under-prep but for now I’m enjoying the small victory.
Another test that I passed was a day of substitute teaching four levels of algebra at a local rural high school. In preparation, I observed the teacher for a day and met with him twice to create the lesson plans. I taught 6 classes, answered questions, gave 2 tests, fixed laptops, ate lunch in 20 minutes, calmed down some rowdies, and learned a lot about quadratic equations. Watching the students, I felt sympathetic when I recognized some of my own testing extremes. At the end of the day I had many more questions about teaching than I had in the morning.
My favorite concept of the day was End Behavior. This is the question: For any given function, what does ‘Y’ do when ‘X’ approaches positive and negative infinity? It’s difficult to imagine the ends without knowing the middle, especially when most functions, like life, are not linear. So next week I’ll stay in the middle, prepare for the next tests, and leave infinity to the mathematicians.
Next Up: The Ties That Bind
This week my life was in the barns and farms of rural Missouri, but my mind was in the bustling metropolis of The Periodic Table. It has almost doubled since Mendeleev, now at 115 and counting. Since the 1860’s, we changed the addresses to Atomic Number, got better at calculating Atomic Mass, and added several new neighborhoods.
This grew to a city like New York, with something for every one. Are you a salt-of-the-earth type? Head over to the Alkali neighborhood. Is your group eclectic, colorful, active, and includes all three phases? You must be a Halogen or a Unitarian. Are you content to stay at home most nights? You would be welcomed by the introverted Noble Gases. And if just plain crazy appeals, take a walk on the wild side with the Lanthanides and Actinides. They are complicated, volatile and radioactive.
The true magic of the Periodic Table is that it led to understanding the reason behind this pattern of behavior. Atoms, just like the rest of us, need balanced energy. Too much energy (electrons) and they will give it away. Not enough energy and they will bond with anyone within reach.
I also learned about the online city of teachers. Even though my closest neighbor is 5 miles away, the emailed classroom tips, compliments, and comments made this place a little less remote and I am truly appreciative. And the true magic of my life happened ten years ago today. Happy Anniversary, Patrick! Who knew that a Philosopher/Poet and and Engineer would have such great chemistry?
Next Up: The Quantum Leap
I visited the Marian Koshland Science Museum today in DC for inspiration and courage. She was a brilliant researcher and teacher in the fields of immunology and molecular biology and was devoted to improving public understanding of science.
I took a memory test (passed with flying colors), guessed the sugar amount in a variety of bottled drinks (barely passed that one), and tested the amount of energy wasted by conventional light bulbs. Nice and tangible.
So how will I communicate the invisible miracle of Chemistry? The elegance of the double-helix, the puzzle of the Periodic Table, the simple genius of The Pill, the universality of Avogadro’s mole, the heroism of vaccines?
My metro stop appears and I realize that I am way ahead of myself. First, I should download my study materials.
At 55 I have left corporate life and the city of Chicago behind. I want to use my love of chemistry and my engineering degree outside of the cubicle farms of the world’s largest oil company. I have moved, along with my husband, horses, dog and cat, to the real farms of rural Missouri. As Neil Young wrote; “Because it’s time to go.”
I have limited platform skills, an unremarkable voice, and no classroom experience. However, I have organization skills and a good work ethic so that will have to suffice. Today I enrolled in the program offered by the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) because it is on-line and recognized in the state of Missouri.
I am writing this blog for two reasons:
1. to help me reflect as I learn about teaching
2. to connect with others on this path.
Next step: Orientation.
Getting to Know You