September 2014 | Editorial
Welcome, Charter Members!
By Emily Bones
Well, it’s finally here. Something chemistry teachers have been anticipating for years. Welcome, charter members, to the American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT)! Our aim is to support K–12 teachers of chemistry by providing them with high-quality resources, professional development opportunities, and a community. We’re so happy you’re here!
As a former teacher of chemistry, I wish there had been an organization like this years ago. I started teaching after completing a B.S. in chemistry and an M.S. in secondary science education. My first year teaching, I thankfully had a mentor with a Ph.D. in chemistry and a few more years teaching experience than me, who I leaned on for support and guidance. By the time I was in year 10 of my teaching career, I was the person people depended on. So I’m excited to be a part of the AACT staff, responsible for launching this much-needed organization.
The AACT team has spent the past five months preparing for this day by gathering resources, building a website, and getting the word out to the community. Many of you have helped tremendously with informing your own circles about AACT, and for that we are grateful. If you want to further spread the word about AACT, drop us a line and we’ll send you information cards that you can share with colleagues and other interested parties.
Many people ask: How is AACT different from other science teacher organizations out there? That’s an easy question for us to answer: AACT is here to grow and support a community of educators who have the same passion and goals. Teachers of chemistry often report that they feel isolated and unsupported, and AACT wants to prevent them from having this feeling. Having a community like AACT will help the chemistry teaching community feel more supported and connected to their mission of teaching.
And Chemistry Solutions is a big part of fulfilling that mission. The online, peer-reviewed periodical, written by and for K–12 teachers of chemistry, includes articles about best practices, teaching tips, classroom resources, teacher perspectives, and simulations, among other topics. It is a platform for teachers to share what works (and doesn’t work), exchange pedagogical ideas, and learn from each other’s experiences. The peer reviewers are experienced K–12 teachers of chemistry, and they provide each contributor with feedback so that the community can learn from well-written, thoughtful, and valued experiences, stories, and advice. The online platform allows for members to comment on each article with a related story from their experience or their perspective. And if you really have something to say, submit an article of your own.
AACT is deliberately using the phrase “teachers of chemistry” because we recognize that not everyone who teaches chemistry identifies as a chemistry teacher. Third-grade teachers have the task of making sure their students master the Common Core Standard: “Compare solids, liquids, and gases based on their basic properties.” Those teachers may not call themselves chemistry teachers per se. But we recognize that they are teaching chemistry, and so we will support them as teachers of chemistry.
To ensure K–8 teachers have support through AACT, we worked this summer with elementary and middle school teachers to design lessons that address chemistry-related standards at those levels. You’ll find those lessons in the collection of elementary and middle school resources. Teachers at these levels may not necessarily have a lot of chemistry knowledge, so it can be a challenge for them to create innovative and relevant chemistry lessons for their students. As our community grows, our library of these kinds of lessons will also grow.
An important goal of AACT is to give teachers of chemistry access to safety training and answers to concerns they may have in their classroom or lab. Many teachers who complete chemistry education programs aren’t provided with safety training, such as how to organize a chemical stockroom or dispose of hazardous chemicals. And many school administrators aren’t scientists, so they don’t know how to advise teachers with proper protocols. Each Tuesday on Twitter, AACT posts a safety tip with the hashtag #SafetyTuesday. And safety is highlighted in every resource shared with the community. Webinars about safety will make monthly appearances on the lineup. And we will do our best to answer any safety concerns brought up by the community.
As you browse through the AACT website, you’ll find many resources that you can implement almost immediately. The multimedia section of the website has many videos and animations that can be used with students of all chemistry abilities. Choose from more than 100 lessons and activities to use with your class to teach any topic of chemistry. Professional development opportunities begin on Sept. 9, when AACT and Harvard University will hold a webinar about the science of cooking. And the blog features perspectives from teachers and tips they want to share with the community about their passion—teaching chemistry.
So what are you waiting for? If you join AACT in 2014, you’ll be considered a charter member and will receive a special package of goodies. Join the community of teachers of chemistry, start a conversation, and strive toward being the best teacher of chemistry that you can be by sharing your chemistry solutions!
Chemistry Solutions editor