Reflections on the program as a whole:
Personally, I was extremely satisfied with my research experience. Although I know it was just a lucky coincidence that my group had a need that met my “expertise from a previous life”, it truly was gratifying to contribute to the group in an immediate and concrete way. I felt more like a post-doc than a grad student. (Maybe it was just my silly bloated ego getting fed, but I’m self aware enough to admit that it felt pretty good). I also want to point out that I didn’t just copy my grad student work. The field of Raman Spectroscopy has integrated new technologies and applications since my research days, so I was able to learn quite a bit of these advances. I hope that, if I am fortunate enough to participate in RET in the future, I would be able to continue the Raman Microscopy work in Professor Gu’s lab.
I feel I learned some valuable education theory in the professional development sessions. Unlike the high school teachers, formal education classes are not required for my profession, and therefore much of the vocabulary and even some of the concepts were new to me. This new knowledge will be very helpful in my interaction with colleagues and college administrators who have more formal backgrounds in education. I will also certainly be even more focused than before on developing more inquiry-based lessons. (My colleagues and I already integrate many hands-on and other activities in lieu of traditional lectures; we just didn’t call it “inquiry based learning”.)
It was a great pleasure to get to know the high school and middle school teachers. I think that having a better understanding of their working conditions, challenges, and successful strategies will help me to understand my own students’ prior experience. In general, I think that the interaction between us all can only help our ability to shepherd people through the entire 7-16 education process. Whether or not helping a more seamless laddering for our students through the system is an explicit goal of RET, it is certainly a valuable consequence of our participation.
Lastly, I’d like to comment on the quality of the people I met and worked with for these past 6 weeks. They are simply exceptional. I leave the program having a great deal of admiration and respect for the job the high school teachers are doing. I hope my son’s teachers in the future are as dedicated, compassionate, and most importantly, competent.
I hope we all stay in touch and use this forum as our own learning community, one in which best practices are shared and questions can be comfortably posed.
Have a productive and happy school year J