I was hired on a Thursday to start teaching the following Monday on a subject I hadn't seen in nearly twenty years. Not only did I not have the book that I was to lecture from, I didn't even know it's title. I searched youtube for "how to teach college chemistry" for some ideas. I asked my PI if he had any random notes or an old syllabus left over from when he taught at MIT. He laughed at me a little..and then probably a lot when he walked out of the lab.
Two nights before I was to greet the class, I received one of my most favorite emails. It was a complete set of lecture notes, quizzes and exams from the professor (who was on sabbatical) that I was replacing. AHA! Start with the atom! Makes sense right?
I had no idea what I was getting into.
At first, I was spending about 4 hours of prep time for every lecture. I would read the sections carefully, then type lengthy notes, then read my notes and make handwritten notes in the margins. I would re-read them before the class and then breath a sigh of relief at the end of each lecture.
As time went on, I was able to spend less time on the prep. My notes deteriorated into bullet points which quickly fell by the wayside. Ultimately, I ended up zeroxing the book and jotting a couple notes in the margins. No one could ever accuse me of throwing material at them that they couldn't find!
Even with my reduced prep time, it was still quite a bit of work, but it was full of rich rewards. In fact, I'm reaping them now as I dole out the grades that the students earned on their final for the second semester. I feel a little like Santa as I hand each one out..only I'm a skinny little beardless girl and the kids worked extremely hard for these presents!
I'm already nostalgic for my days as Professor Painter and I haven't even turned in my key. If I could have multiple careers I would choose this one in a heartbeat. I loved the students, I loved watching them love science. I loved office hours, their minds opened up right in front me. I was hired on a Thursday to start learning the following Monday. I think I learned more than they did.