I stumbled across IONiC VIPEr almost by accident in 2016. I’ve been participating in the community in various capacities ever since – most notably as part of the second cohort of VIPEr Fellows. As a part of this project, we were asked to choose between two topics – bonding or solid state -- which would serve as the basis for our participation. I decided to join Team Solids, partially on a lark but partially because I knew it was my weaker topic.
I am sitting down to write this very belated reflection on the VIPEr Fellowship Workshop from June 2022, days before attending the 2023 workshop, and I am filled with excitement for what is about to come.
Shhh… don’t tell anyone. I’m not an inorganic chemist! Don’t get me wrong, inorganic chemistry is lovely.
If I’m being honest, I started the Fellows project feeling unsure of whether or not I would be a good fit. I teach large enrollment courses (120-180 per section for inorganic and 350 per section for general chemistry) at a university where research is heavily prioritized. Coming into a group of people so excited about teaching and improving student learning was exciting, but more than a bit daunting. Adding that to the fact that I have zero background in che
Attending the VIPEr Fellows workshop, I could feel the collective exasperation, exhaustion and frustration from a group of highly intelligent and highly motivated individuals who were perhaps, like me, feeling less motivated than ever before, beaten down by the prior pandemic years of disarray and drastic changes. I felt relieved to be given permission to also feel these things (outwardly anyways) that I have tried to “power through” in the p
Now that a month has passed since my very first VIPEr workshop—today is 25 July 2022--I thought I’d put my toe in the water, take a bite out of the VIPEr process of renewing and rejuvenating my teaching in inorganic chemistry, and write my reflection piece.
Working with the VIPEr fellows project has been one of the most rewarding professional experiences I’ve had in some time. Having other inorganic chemists engaged in serious discussions about teaching inorganic chemistry is very inspiring and motivational. Being able to interact with other inorganic chemists outside my own institution has been a reminder that we all have similar experiences and that we can help each other grow. The community being built by the VIPEr project is powerful. I was relucta
Many of us are on an island teaching inorganic chemistry at our home institutions so it is tremendously useful and invigorating to interact with the IONIC/VIPEr community of like-minded chemistry educators. I have taught inorganic chemistry for ~10 years and tweaked the course slightly each time but now I have hard data that I can use to guide the changes I make to my course next year.
It was a tough year. My fall Inorganic Chemistry class had a whopping four students, only two of which showed up with any consistency. We spent enormous amounts of time reviewing General Chemistry concepts, and only scratched the surface of “Gen Chem on PEDs”. The lab didn’t fare any better, but we won’t talk about that.
After three days of brilliant sunshine the cloudburst outside reflects my sadness that this workshop weekend has gone so quickly and that I could not be in Dearborn. The chance simply to connect with others teaching inorganic chemistry is a precious treasure. Whether the workshop, SLiThErs, or the VIPErPit, these connections sustain me, inspire me, and keep me from feeling isolated.