AACT Member Spotlight: Ryan Williams

By AACT on August 2, 2023

Ryan Williams

Every month AACT spotlights a passionate member who is dedicated to enhancing chemistry inside and outside the classroom. This month, we spotlight Ryan Williams. He teaches chemistry and AP Chemistry at Abington Senior High School in Abington, PA.

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Ryan, and I have been teaching all levels of chemistry for 24 years. I have been married to a wonderful woman, Jennifer, for more than 12 years, and we have 3 great boys, Nathan, Matthew, and Jack.

I enjoy every minute I have with my students, but outside of school, you will not find a bigger Philadelphia sports fan than me! I also like to go bowling, hiking, coaching soccer, and going to the movies.

I spend a lot of time with my family and have enjoyed watching my boys grow up.

Why did you become a teacher? Did you always want to teach?

I first thought of becoming a teacher in college. While studying chemistry, I had a lab job working with the Juniata College Science in Motion project. While working, I was able to visit local schools and help share chemistry with the students there. This experience showed me the power of teaching, and I decided to earn my teaching certificate with my BS in Chemistry.

What is your approach to building a meaningful relationship with your students and their parents?

My approach to building relationships with students and parents is to be upfront and honest in all we do. Students learn about expectations early, and parents always know what is going on in the classroom. Communication should be both electronic and in-person. Finally, showing compassion and humor also goes a long way in my relationships with students and parents.

What are you most proud of in your work?

I am most proud of my students and the connections we make in the classroom and laboratory and their improvement from September to June.

Why did you become involved with AACT? What are the benefits of being involved?

I first started with AACT by attending a week-long workshop outside of Philadelphia. I have written multiple resources and was invited to attend a second workshop in Washington, D.C. I have also been a regional representative holding events at my school for local chemistry teachers. The resources, webinars, and community make AACT a great organization to be a part of!

What topic do you find hardest for students? How do you teach it?

I find that equilibrium is one of the hardest topics for my students, especially in acid/base chemistry. I use a variety of methods from labs, demonstrations, interactives, videos, problems, and providing students with enough time for understanding.

How do you monitor the progress of your students? How do you ensure underperformers excel?

Monitoring students is key to their success. I use many old-school techniques through pre-class questions, homework, and tests/quizzes. I also incorporate Jamboards, Peardeck, Nearpod, Google Forms, and other electronic feedback provides me with invaluable information on their progress.

What do you do to remain current and bring the latest science into the classroom?

I try to read as much as I can on new topics. I also follow many individuals and groups on social media as well.

What fuels your passion for science and teaching?

Very simply, my students!

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

Think critically & confidently

If you could pass on one word of wisdom to other chemists, what would it be?