13 Aug 2019

A Reflection on VIPEr-izing a Class

Submitted by John Lee, University of Tennessee Chattanooga
Cohort 1
Reflection Piece 1

One year complete as a VIPEr Fellow, what a ride! Along the way there were questions on whether or not my IRB was actually approved (it did get approved, thank you Justin!), plenty of surveys given, a video camera in the class, questions on what to expect, questioning myself am I doing this correctly, questioning is my class like the others participating, wondering do I need to start covering everything on the ACS exam and finally a frantic compilation of course artifacts to submit.

I walked into the Summer Workshop with these and many more questions. At the Summer Workshop we learned that each member of the cohort said that “my inorganic class is a little different” or something along those lines, which began to ease some of my original questions about my own class. Over the 3 days I began to see that what makes each course a little different is what makes our courses collectively great. I walked away from my first year as a VIPEr Fellow and participating in the first Summer Workshop feeling confident that my course is different and that is okay, feeling energized for teaching my Foundations Inorganic class this Fall, and prepared/confident to implement new classroom techniques in a “VIPEr-ized class” using the tools that I learned during the workshop. These new classroom learning tools will include:  more in-class group work, literature discussions, and writing reflections. Importantly, each of these will align with my learning goals/objectives while also having measurable outcomes.

As I prepare for the 2nd year as a Fellow, I reflect on my 1st year with particular emphasis on the student in the back of the classroom on your computer working on an assignment for a different class, the student taking notes but struggling with key concepts, the student walking in the door 10 minutes late, and the instructor (me) who feels he never has enough time while frantically talking to fill every second of a 50 minute class. It is going to be the same class but with a new, VIPEr-colored polish. I am grateful to the IONiC community, the VIPEr website, my new colleagues met in this cohort, and the organizers of this Grand Experiment!

Comments

I love this quote: "Over the 3 days I began to see that what makes each course a little different is what makes our courses collectively great." That's the VIPEr spirit! Don't be surprised if you see this quote surface in other parts of VIPEr-land.

I also love your quote on being different. The more I reflect on this, the more liberated it makes me feel about my own teaching. I'm excited to hear how implementing all of the learning tools in your classroom goes and how that's changed the classroom experience for both you and your students!