What a long, strange trip it’s been…over the past year at UWSP, that is! As someone who’s part-administrator/part-faculty, I’ve come to value my time in the classroom as emotional and psychological therapy. Teaching is when I get to focus on engaging students and doing what I love—teaching inorganic chemistry. Being in the classroom means I don’t have to worry about budgets, budget cuts, cutting budgets (see a trend?), or hitting enrollment targets; I get to do what I was hired and trained to do. And this is why being an IONiC VIPEr Fellow has meaning for me.
One notable experience from the VIPEr fellows program was getting together with other Inorganic faculty. Most of us are the only Inorganic instructor in our respective departments, so being able to connect with 20+ others who you can bounce ideas off of and get some idea of what they are doing in their course has been extraordinarily helpful for me. It turns out many of us struggle along similar themes, and some have come up with better solutions than myself.
Being a VIPEr fellow allows me the unique opportunity to share and reflect about the best practices in active and engaged learning. I do this on my own for the most part, but the Fellows workshops helps me to do this more thoughtfully and efficiently. I can trust the IONiC/VIPEr community to give me honest feedback and ideas about teaching so that I can implement them in my classes more successfully. Last year (Fall 2018), I started to implement one literature discussion in my course.
Great teachers emerge, they touch the lives of their students, and perhaps only through some of those students do they have any influence on the broad art of teaching. For the most part, their insights die with them, and subsequent generations must discover anew the wisdom that drove their practices.
Ken Bain, What the Best College Teachers Do1