September 2018 | Editorial
By Sherri Rukes
As the new school year begins, I am honored and excited to serve as president of AACT. I have been an AACT member since it was founded in 2014, and have been privileged to serve the organization as the High School Ambassador in the past. The organization has grown to more than 5,300 members in just a short time — which I believe is due to the fact that each member benefits from the availability of quality teaching resources, and the many opportunities for professional development and networking.
So, as you begin this new school year feeling recharged and ready to go, I want to challenge you. Join with me, and find opportunities to share your passion for chemistry. Let’s make 2018-19 the year that we all will be inspired.
Whether you are new to teaching or are a seasoned veteran like myself, as a teacher, you need to recharge yourself before the new school year begins.
During the course of teaching each year, I write ideas on Post-It notes to remind myself of particular instances where I can improve or change my teaching in the following year. I always find that there are certain topics that I didn’t teach in the best way, or situations where I wasn’t able to reach all of my students with my teaching strategy. Whenever that happens, I research the more than 600 classroom resources that the AACT library offers for inspiration. There are labs, demonstrations, lesson plans, multimedia resources, and many other types of activities that are ready to use in the classroom.
Seasoned teachers may think there is nothing new when it comes to teaching chemistry. But you will be happily amazed about the creative twists and new approaches that can revive standard topics. So, inspire yourself to incorporate a new strategy into your teaching! Look at the many resources that AACT has to offer.
In this issue of Chemistry Solutions, you can learn from many other great teachers, and be inspired to implement something new in your classroom this year. For example, you can read about a veteran teacher (who is new to the chemistry classroom this year) as she shares her thoughts on the importance of collaboration in her teaching journey. Or, if assessment is an area of focus for you, consider learning how to provide your students with instant feedback on their quizzes. If you are interested in learning about strategies for composing multiple-choice questions, Michael Farabaugh’s article can help.
Meanwhile, AP teachers might consider tactics for preparing students for the final exam throughout the year, while elementary teachers can benefit from an article about safety in the K-5 science classroom. Additionally, if you are looking to implement a new lab activity, you may be interested in a guided inquiry approach to determine the activation energy in the chemiluminescent reaction in a lightstick.
I admire the willingness of our members to share their ideas, explain how they’ve introduced a new twist on an old favorite, or virtually open their “classroom door” to others in the chemistry teaching community through the platforms offered by AACT. Whether it is through reading and sharing responses to questions on our discussion board or posting a question yourself, sharing an activity, or writing an article for Chemistry Solutions, there are so many ways you can inspire other members.
You might feel like you don’t have anything to share with the community. But I have noticed that we all do things slightly differently in our classrooms. Sharing and learning about these differences can inspire someone else, and also promote your own growth.
I recall a workshop where I had the opportunity to present with a remarkable chemistry teacher, whom I admired greatly. I presented a simple demonstration and then had the participants recreate the presentations themselves. Afterwards, my co-presenter told me, “Great job!” I thought surely she must have seen this demonstration before, since I didn’t consider it explicitly new or different. But, in all her years of teaching, she had never seen it before. I was so proud of myself at that moment. I had inspired another teacher, and was praised by someone I admired so greatly!
Let’s grow together
As AACT continues to grow, the Governing Board is reviewing survey responses to determine if there is potential for an AACT meeting in the future.
In the meantime, you can inspire others locally. I am fortunate to be in an area where a group of chemistry teachers gets together once a month to share ideas, get help, and network with each other. You can do the same in your local area! Like me, you might find it beneficial to invite others to a coffee shop or pub to connect and share.
If making an in-person connection is difficult, consider leveraging technology, like Skype or Google Hangout, to start a conversation or invite others to watch you teach. You can record and share lessons in order to get help, solicit feedback, or explain a strategy you use; all are great ways to share and collaborate with others. Additionally, making a connection with a teacher from another grade level can have a twofold positive impact, and I urge you to give it a try!
Spread the word about AACT to others. Whether you speak at a local, regional, state, or national conference, let everyone know about this wonderful organization. We are all ambassadors of chemistry and sharing information about what AACT has to offer will help us grow. Share and promote the vision of our community!
As an organization, we inspire K-12 teachers of chemistry. While I may not know all AACT members personally, I do know that your willingness to contribute to this community through writing, talking, sharing, and inviting new members to participate benefits all of us. Hearing about your experiences inspires everyone. So, let’s continue to work together to improve teaching and learning in ways that inspire others to connect to chemistry.
I am excited about the upcoming year for AACT and am honored to lead this amazing organization. Please take a chance and share — you will inspire others. I hope to one day meet each of our members, but in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me. If you are ever in the Chicagoland area, please let me know so we can meet, talk a bit of chemistry, and inspire one another!
President, AACT Governing Board
(article cover) PixelsAway/Bigstock.com