Sunday, October 21, 2012

#ChemCoach: Adventures in Working.....

In honor of National Chemistry Week I am participating in #ChemCoach hosted by See Arr Oh of Just Like Cooking blog. I am supposed to write a  summary about my current job.

Your current job.

What you do in a standard "work day."

What kind of schooling / training / experience helped you get there?

How does chemistry inform your work?

Finally, a unique, interesting, or funny anecdote about your career*

I am, by title, an Associate Faculty member of various junior colleges in southern California. This means that I teach chemistry classes at various schools based on the needs of the school at any given time. This also means that it is very easy for me to come in and out of the field on a semester-by-semester basis. In June 2011 my first child was born and I decided not to take any classes for the fall 2011/spring 2012 year. Then, in fall of 2012 I committed to teaching one class.

On the days that I teach I get up at 5 am to drive up to Orange County. Initially, the drive up there was horrifying to me- I had never done it regularly aside from a yearly trip up to Disneyland or Universal Studios. However, when I leave my house at 6 am there is absolutely no traffic. None whatsoever. I can relax in my car, pop in a CD and have an enjoyable drive up north. (On the flip end, I get off work at around 11 am and drive home. The traffic is very minimal at this time of day.)

Usually I arrive at work about forty-five minutes early. This gives me enough time to take care of loose ends: visit someone on campus for business, prepare my white board for class, boot up my computer,  make sure I have a waste container and all proper equipment if it is a lab day. Then, class starts. Students arrive by 8 am and sign my sign-in sheet. They turn in their labs from the previous week and we settle in for the daily "lecture." (For lack of a better term it is still called a lecture- I wish it wasn't.)

We take a break at 9:30 am or so and by the end of class we do the "clicker" slides. These are slides that allow the students to select an a,b,c,d answer for a question pertaining to the lecture. It gives students a chance to participate and it gives me feedback about what they understood and what they missed from the  lesson.

Then, at around 11 am we finish class and everybody goes home. My duties outside class include grading labs/quizzes/exams, answering student questions via email, maintaining my blackboard site and providing keys for all quizzes, tests and other assignments. (All of these are posted on my blackboard site.)

My job requires at least a master's degree in chemistry. Many people with a PhD also do this work but the PhD is not required.

Something unique about my career? I was hired as a chemistry instructor at a junior college as the result of a flute performance I did at a church in La Mesa. It was the most unusual way I've ever been hired in my life. An usher approached me at the end of the performance and asked me about my day job. He was a professor/instructor at a local college. The rest is history.