1st Year Students Can Be (Teaching) Tools

As a general rule of thumb, I try to be as prepared as possible for my tutorial classes. I teach 1st year chemistry students the fundamental stuff they’ll carry with them for the rest of their degree and beyond; a wonderfully satisfying and important cog on the huge wheel of the chemistry department.

However this weekend, instead of;

a) Going through their latest lecture course material

b) Attempting to derive the answers myself

or even

c) Reading the questions

I found myself out each night til the small hours. Which was great.

And it genuinely was…until this morning. I realised about half an hour before the first tutorial was due to start that I DIDN’T HAVE  A CLUE HOW TO TEACH THIS MATERIAL.

What followed was lots of stressing and flapping and texting my supervisor for help. He gave me some acetates, which contained some extra material for some of the questions.

With these scraps of comfort in hand, I wandered off the building I was due in. Three cigarettes later, I braved the massed horde of 18 year olds that were surely going to see right through my confident facade.

And what did I get for being woefully underprepared, and spending my lunch hour wandering the corridors in a state of panic? Nothing. The tutorials went absolutely fine. I actually enjoyed them. 

Massive lesson learnt today…don’t leave it to the last minute when you’re presenting material. Don’t assume that you’ll remember the basics of something you haven’t covered in three years. And most importantly, if you don’t know it, ask the students to explain it for you. You come off all inclusive and interactive, and they’ll never know.


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