March 2017 | Editorial
Passion and Involvement Are Keys to Success
By Regis Goode
I have been a teacher of chemistry for over thirty years. My twin passions for teaching and chemistry combined to make my career a success and source of joy.
My career started with a position as an analytical chemist in my state’s Department of Health and Safety. I enjoyed my work, but at that time the media was constantly describing the need for math and science teachers in the public schools. I started to think about becoming a teacher. I also thought, very naively, that doing so would give me more time with my own children.
That was certainly never true — but seeking this career change was one of my best decisions. Fortunately, the state of South Carolina instituted an alternative teaching certification program, to which I applied and was accepted. The program provided guidance and basic skills needed to survive a classroom of teenagers. When I became a classroom teacher, I soon realized there was so much more involved. I didn’t want to just survive; I wanted to spark the passion I felt for science, and especially chemistry. How could I do that? I began by acquiring demonstration and laboratory books and reading educational journals in search of ideas to inspire my students. After all, there was no Internet search for resources back then.
Regis early in her career.
These resources helped, but my real revelation came in 1988 when our American Chemical Society (ACS) local section approached the head of my science department with a proposition. The local section was willing to purchase two class sets of the American Chemical Society’s new Chemistry in the Community textbooks — but only if they could find someone to pilot the course. My department chair approached me since I was a relatively new teacher with an open mind. I readily accepted the opportunity.
That summer, I participated in a workshop that explained the philosophies and provided resources needed to teach this chemistry program. During the workshop, I began to appreciate the vast amount of resources that ACS had to offer teachers. I wanted to get more involved and gain access to more of these resources. So, I became an ACS Resource Teacher and presented workshops for teachers about Chemistry in the Community.
Regis (on right in each photo) presenting a workshop in Krasnoyarsk, Russia circa 1993.
Although I did help teachers learn about strategies for teaching chemistry, I also learned from each of those teachers in the process. My involvement with ACS led to additional opportunities: I volunteered for ACS committees, began giving presentations at local, state and national conferences, and became a member of ACS. Each time I gave a presentation or served on a committee, I felt a little guilty knowing that I was benefiting from the experience at the same time. But, who benefitted the most from my involvement? My students! I gained skills to keep students focused, excited, and passionate about their success in chemistry. Many even chose to take a second year of chemistry or pursue a degree in science after high school.
Since those early days, my joy of teaching and working with young people has only increased with each year. I want other teachers to have access to similar opportunities, such as the help I received during my career from wonderful teachers, ACS, and other chemists. I realize that not everyone encounters the same opportunities that I was fortunate to find. So, when I was asked to serve on the ACS committee to investigate the possibility of creating an organization for teachers of chemistry, I jumped at the chance. I myself had experienced the need for such an organization, and knew that it could make a difference in the teaching and learning of chemistry.
When AACT was established, I applied to serve as Committee Representative. I was nominated and appointed to that position. I see this position as an opportunity to not only help teachers in their classrooms, but also as a way to get more teachers involved with AACT. I cannot emphasize how important it is to become involved. From my experience, you gain more than you give.
In our initial year, we established two committees: The Nominating and Awards Committee and The Member Support Services Committee. The purpose of the Nominating and Awards Committee is to solicit and vet potential candidates for elected positions on the AACT Governing Board as well as committee appointments. This committee will also define awards, write evaluation rubrics, and judge applications for AACT service awards. The Member Support Services Committee is responsible for identifying and responding to the professional needs of AACT members.
Both committees are busy working on these goals, and offer an excellent way to become involved with AACT. The Nominating and Awards committee is seeking people interested in serving on either the governing board or on committees. You certainly could nominate yourself for these positions, or you may know a fellow teacher who would like to serve. We would welcome your nomination. Or perhaps you have suggestions for awards; if so, the committee would love to hear them. You can contact the Committees with suggestions here.
As we move forward, we will be adding committees and seeking members for all the committees. What a great way to get involved, meet new people, and impact the chemistry teaching community. Becoming an integral, active member of AACT is just a click away! Go to “Get Involved” tab on this website. There you will find many ways to volunteer, including serving in a leadership role. By completing this form, your information will be forwarded to the Governing Board for their action. Please consider volunteering for a leadership role. I know you will find it rewarding and beneficial to both you and your students.
This issue of Chemistry Solutions features a number of great examples of teachers and members who are getting involved. They have shared their knowledge, thoughts, and experiences through a number of great articles. For those of you looking to enhance the laboratory experience in your classroom, consider Four Strategies for Effective Labs. If you seem to run out of class time and can’t complete all the lab activities you had hoped to, Amiee Modic shares about her implementation of Take Home Labs. As the AP exam quickly approaches, teachers may be interested in considering Peer Instruction to better prepare their students.
If you are an AP teacher who is looking to quickly simulate a lab experience to enhance your curriculum, check out the article about integrating Virtual Labs into the curriculum. Meanwhile, the STARS program, instituted by NC State University’s chemistry department, serves as great source of inspiration for connecting your classroom with local colleges and universities — especially for those of you teaching in K-8 classrooms. Krista Adams shares insight about the progression of learning about the atom, all the way from the pre-K through high school chemistry. Finally, if you are considering strategies for remediation, consider using Google Forms to accomplish this in your classroom.
Contributing to Chemistry Solutions is another easy way to get involved. I wrote an article about one of my favorite lessons involving a short lab activity. The process is easy, and certainly contributes to the chemistry teaching community. Remember that we are looking for candidates for the upcoming elections, as well as committee members for the current and new committees. Watch for announcements about these opportunities in our monthly newsletter, AACTconnect. Finally, do yourself (and more importantly, your students) a favor — GET INVOLVED!
Committee Representative, AACT Governing Board