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What I Learned (And How I Survived) My First Year of Teaching High School Chemistry

WEBINAR (1 hour) recorded September 21, 2017


I never intended to teach high school chemistry, and I was never trained to be a high school teacher; however, I was asked to teach high school as a part of my responsibilities as a first-year professor at a large, Midwestern university. I learned a lot from that experience, including strategies that I use in my university courses to this day. I also learned just how hard it is to be a first-year high school chemistry teacher because I experienced first-hand many of the challenges that all first-year chemistry teachers face! In this presentation, I will talk about some of the challenges I encountered that year, and some of the strategies that I used to address those challenges and to (eventually) survive and thrive in my high school teaching experience.

MaryKay Orgill is a Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). After earning a BS degree in chemistry from Brigham Young University, she enrolled at Purdue University, where she received MS (focus: biochemistry) and PhD (focus: chemistry education) degrees. At UNLV, her research has mainly focused on examining and improving undergraduate chemistry teaching and learning. Over the past fourteen years, she has also been involved in a number of grant projects that have provided professional development workshops and classes to over 500 K-12 teachers and university faculty in order to increase their knowledge of STEM content and of instructional strategies that are effective for teaching STEM subjects. She is the recipient of several teaching awards, including the UNLV GPSA Outstanding Mentor Award and the UNLV Foundation Distinguished Teaching Award. Dr. Orgill currently serves as the Chair of the Division of Chemical Education of the American Chemical Society. And, most importantly (at least in her mind), she was once a high school chemistry teacher.