AACT Member Spotlight: Mary McMaster

By AACT on March 28, 2019

Every month AACT will spotlight a passionate member who is dedicated to enhancing chemistry inside and outside the classroom. This month we spotlight Mary McMaster from Allen Park High School, Allen Park, MI.

What are you most proud of in your work?

As a science educator, I believe that the single most important goal I can achieve each year is to bring the science content to my students in a way that maximizes the excitement of learning and minimizes the drudgery students often feel by being “taught”. In order to achieve this goal, I have worked hard over the years to move from the traditional lecture/lab, teacher-centered chemistry classroom to a more innovative setting that incorporates a variety of learning opportunities as well as various assessment methods.

What fuels your passion for science and teaching?

LEARNING! I feel that I must never stop learning. I have attended a multitude of conferences, seminars, and workshops in order to continue my growth as a teacher. These professional development experiences have made a huge impact on my effectiveness in the classroom and I have seen my “bag of tricks” grow to an overflowing assortment of engaging learning activities to be used to reach all of my students. I try to incorporate a multitude of teaching strategies to reach all of my students and to excite them about learning chemistry.

In three words, what would your students say they learned from you?

Determination, perseverance and problem-solving skills.

What rewards do you get from teaching?

I love my job because it is fun and challenging. The fun is the science, the gooey, messy, explosive, stinky, hands-on adventure that happens in my room and allows students to learn a subject that I love. The challenge is finding new ways to help students master difficult content while learning problem-solving skills that will be useful to them for a life time. The fun is watching a student who thought they would NEVER be able to do a mole conversion problem get them all correct on a practice quiz. The challenge is convincing that same reluctant student that although they may never have to do a mole conversion problem in the real world, they are training their brain to think, a rather useful life skill. The fun is learning from those students about how to be a better teacher every single day. The challenge is getting them to learn, stretch, and grow without feeling like they are being taught.