Keep in mind that your
current professors might
become valuable mentors for you in the future.
Maintain good relationships with them, and keep
in touch after graduation.
Participate in a variety of
activities in school and in
the community. Marcy
Gever, a chemistry teacher
at Central Bucks High
School in Warrington,
PA, explains, “A teacher
who knows you and your
strengths can help you
decide on a career path and
provide you with excellent
references for internships and other work-related opportunities.”
COURTESY OF CENTRAL BUCKS HIGH SCHOOL
Marcy Gever teaches chemistry at Central
Bucks High School in Warrington, PA.
Choose a variety of courses
Take a wide variety of science courses, especially lab courses.
High school chemistry teachers are often asked to teach math,
biology, earth science, or physics. “Teaching middle and senior
high school can be all about breadth, not depth,” notes William
Smith, a chemistry teacher and science department chair at
Bristol High School in Bristol, PA. Professors at predominantly
institutions are often
asked to teach general education science
courses or chemistry
courses outside of
their own sub-disci-pline. Exposure to a
variety of topics as an
often give you a leg
up when you start to
develop a course outside of your immediate area of expertise.
Laurel Morton, a
professor of chemistry at Eastern Kentucky
DARAH NOCI TO
William Smith is a chemistry teacher and science
department chair at Bristol High School in Bristol,
gaining experience with a variety of instrumentation. Hands-on
experience with modern lab instruments is a huge plus, especially when you have taught others how to use them.
Choose a variety of courses taught by different professors.
Each professor has unique teaching styles and methods. Discuss
the benefits of different teaching styles with your professors. You
may be surprised at how much forethought they have put into
exactly how a course should be taught.
Invest in a few books with chemical demonstrations and try
them out. Learn to give concise written and oral explanations of
why events occur from a molecular perspective. “As scientists,
we don’t go to a school to learn how to wow students and draw
them into our subject; but that is an important goal for 7th
thru12th grade teachers,” explains Smith.
Eric Oblinger, a high school science teacher at Concordia
Lutheran High School in Tomball, TX, encourages students who
are thinking of a career as a teacher to take advantage of the
opportunities that their undergraduate ACS student chapter provides to perform demonstrations at magic shows and other community outreach events. He explains, “You not only learn how
to safely perform chemical demonstrations, you also learn creative presentation methods. It will also prepare you to start your
ACS-sponsored high school ChemClub.” Gever adds, “You’ll also
develop excellent presentation skills, which will enhance your
ability to communicate with others in the field.”
Eric Oblinger demonstrates a science experiment to a student at Concordia
Lutheran High School in Tomball, TX.
Keep current with technology
You may already be skilled and savvy about the latest communication and computing technology. Texting, blogging, developing a webpage, running a computer network, and analyzing
data (grades) are all part of today’s age of teaching. However,
tomorrow (or at least very soon), exciting new technologies will
emerge and, if history is any indication, your students will be
among the earliest adopters. It will be important for you, too, to
stay on the forefront of these emerging technologies in order to
continue reaching and engaging your students.
Many undergraduate institutions hire teaching assistants to
help with lower level chemistry lab experiments. Volunteer for
as many teaching assignments as you can. Morton supervised
both graduate and undergraduate students as a post-doctoral fellow at Villanova;University. She mentioned that this experience
came in especially handy when beginning her own research program at Eastern;Kentucky;University. In fact, all of the professors