|MadSci Network: Chemistry|
Ashley - There are two main things you need to be a chemistry teacher. First, a love of science, all science. Chemistry (as you may have discovered) is not an isolated science. To understand it well, and appreciate it for all it's complexity, a good understanding of biology and even some physics will become nescessary. Personally, I started out most interested in biology, but as I got to know biology better, I started to use a lot of chemistry, and became intensely interested in that science. All of a sudden I found myself teaching not only chemistry but advanced placement (AP) chemistry as well. The second thing you need is a love of teaching. You must like, no, love sharing information with other people about things. Patience, empathy and a deep understanding of what you are talking about will all be needed to support your efforts to share what you know. So what does a chemistry teacher do? Well a little bit of what I do is presenting the material to the students... what you think of when you think of what teachers do. However, most of my time is spent reviewing information and organizing it to present it to the students, coming up with ways to review the information, creating tests and grading all the work I give out. I also spend a fair bit of time putting together labs. Choosing which ones to do, testing labs to make sure they work (you'd be surprised how many labs teachers have to tweak to get them to work in their own lab!!!), and figuring out ways to make them work with the chemicals, space, equipment, and time I have. Overall very little of the time is actually spent doing experiments. However, my joy in the job is in watching students understand just a bit of all this wonderful information I have, and opening them up to the world of science I see and enjoy all the time. Now what you need to do to become a chemistry teacher is take lots of science classes, in Middle School, High School and especially College. There are two ways to go in order to become a teacher - get your bachelors in science (biology, chemistry, physics) and then go to graduate school for an education degree. Or you can do a double degree in college, work on your science degree and you teaching certification at the same time. You can also go straight into teaching after getting a science degree if you go into teaching at private (non-state) schools. This is what I did... and the first year is a bit rough - but it will be no matter how you get into teaching. As for grades - well you should do well, but most of all you should really be enjoying the classes. If you don't enjoy the information when you have to learn it, you won't have any fun teaching it! Good Luck in your career search! Overall, keep your mind open to all the possibilities you will encounter! Greta Hardin
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Chemistry.