This summer I’ve been really happy to have the opportunity to peer mentor Chemistry 161 students taking summer school at Leeward Community College. I run two problem-solving sessions a week– on Mondays and Wednesdays, for any students who wish to attend and get some additional help with their Chemistry. There’s also a tutor available to them on Fridays.
Friday will be their second exam of the summer. They have three exams and one final in six weeks. I don’t envy them! I didn’t get to work with them much before the first exam but this time the instructor gave me a copy of the practice exam / study guide in advance so I could work through some of those problems with them.
So far, I love it. I present problems on the board and field any questions they have. Friday’s exam covers Balancing chemical equations, Gas reactions and stoichiometry, Solution stoichiometry, and some heat / energy reaction problems. The instructor sat in on today’s session, which was good. I didn’t mind when he corrected me or added his take on things while I was up at the board. I found it valuable to get feedback, and hope it reinforced the fact I am just a peer in the minds of the students attending. I am by no means a TA, tutor, or instructor. I’m just someone who took Chem 161 in the spring semester and got an A. Oh, and I had to be part of an underrepresented minority group as well. That was a requirement since this program is funded by a grant via the IOA-LSAMP (Islands of Opportunity Alliance – Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Programs. I qualify since I’m part Native Hawaiian.
I know I have a long way to go as far as learning to teach effectively, and my overall Chemistry knowledge, but I think this is what I want to do with the rest of my life. I like the Community college environment and students. I truly care about the students who are taking the class. I find myself almost feeling protective of them.. and wanting to see them succeed.
My general understanding of Chemistry is really improving since I have to read and do the problems all over again. I also sit-in on lectures some days, and it’s cool to hear another instructor’s take on the same material. This has been an invaluable experience so far.
Happy happy happy. :)