What are we doing to help kids achieve?
Summer time is the ultimate time to recharge the teaching batteries. Most teachers barely have enough time during the school year to eat lunch and visit the restroom. It makes it almost impossible for teachers to engage in authentic professional development. Professional development during the summer can be a great chance to stop and reflect. It provides time that does not exist during the school year to develop new and better ideas to help students.
A wonderful opportunity has opened up to assist teachers and their students. Miami University in Oxford Ohio is offering a summer institute called VisChem. Essentially, the VisChem program is trying to help teachers and students examine ideas and practices that involve chemistry in the macro-scale with relation to dynamic molecular models. The program is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The funding covers a 4 day experience in Oxford Ohio over the summer. There are many reasons why chemistry teachers should take advantage of this opportunity.
First, I have to admit that I am a bit biased. I spent three years working in the Target Inquiry Program at Miami University. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding programs of my career. I spent time with some incredible professors and teachers, many of whom I am still friends with today. The experience had and continues to have a positive impact on my teaching. Dr. Ellen Yezierski is the director of the TIMU program and the VisChem program at Miami University. I fully expect this institute to be a fantastic professional development experience from her and a team of people dedicated to helping teachers and students. Another reason to consider this program is that it appears that they will offer teachers state of the art modeling practices and technology that teachers will be able to use in the classroom. What a fantastic tool to have in your tool kit at the start of a new year. Dr. Roy Tasker has been working with models for years. From what I can tell, his models, ideas and research continues to get more exciting as they evolve. Finally, one of the best reasons to consider this program is because of the other teachers you will get to meet. I have constantly been amazed and blessed with other teachers stories and experiences. It has enriched my life and has helped me help students.
Overall, this appears to be an amazing professional development opportunity in support of chemistry teachers and students by a wonderful group of people. I would jump at the chance to be a part of this. Currently, I have a family conflict that will not allow me to attend. Even if I were able to apply and did not get in, I probably would have tried to show up anyway and hope they do not notice. These programs are that good. If you have the chance, consider this program. It will be a great summer experience and helpful for your students.