Instruction of undergraduate students in organic chemistry as well as the overview of general, organic and biological chemistry for students interested in health-science careers such as nursing.
My belief is that an educator is not simply one who imparts information and knowledge onto students. A student may have great understanding of a concept in theory, but when asked to apply that knowledge, he may not know where to begin. I believe an educator should provide the students with the tools in order to use the knowledge they are gaining. I also feel that educators need to remember that students are novices and do not know the language of the field. I try my best to explain concepts in English, and provide analogies where possible, before speaking in the chemistry language.
Much of science, especially chemistry, is about problem solving. A student will benefit greatly from being able to look at a problem and break it down into parts and to see what the true problem is asking. Throughout my lectures I provide many examples and walk students through the thought process. To try and show them how to pick out important information and to know exactly what information is needed or missing. Individuals learn in different ways and at different rates. While a course cannot be specifically tailored to every individual, material can be presented in different formats to address the various learning styles. I therefore try and provide examples that are formatted in different ways and that approach concepts from various angles.
I also feel an educator should be approachable, and not make students feel they are a bother because they are asking questions. From the very beginning of a course, I tell students that I want them to ask questions. Not only is it likely that many other students have the same question, it provides me feedback into where students are still struggling and allow me provide more explanation or examples on the subject. I also encourage students to attend my office hours, or make an individual appointment if they having great difficulty. I explain to them that going over concepts to a large lectures hall is different than to an individual or small group and that I can then tailor my explanation more towards the way they think and learn.
While teaching can be demanding and stressful, it is highly rewarding. There is great satisfaction in working with a struggling student and for them to finally have their “ah hah” moment and see their face light up. While I know not all my students will love the subject, my goal is for them to appreciate why chemistry is so important in our every day lives and in the fields in which they are pursuing careers.