Description of Duties for High School Teachers in the
Summer Analytical Chemistry Program at the
University of Delaware Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Prepared by Professor Thomas P. Beebe, Jr.
Minimum requirements. The teacher must have a certification in chemistry and a mastery of the concepts covered in AP Chemistry. Two or more years' experience as instructors of AP chemistry is desired but not necessary. I am looking for a self-starter that doesn't need detailed directions to make progress.
Homework Review Sessions. The position involves running a homework review session each morning for about 30 minutes (8:00 AM - 8:30 AM), covering the 6-or-so homework problems assigned from the previous day's lecture. You should do this on an overhead transparency that you have prepared ahead of time, so that you can show all steps, and yet move it along quickly, or you should do this on the chalk board working from prepared notes. The students self-grade these in class as you go over them, and you just keep an eye on them to make sure that they are not cheating by filling things in as they go. These are generally very top-notch students and this won't usually be an issue. For each problem or part of the problem you tell them how many points or fractions of a point to give themselves, and the total points per HW is usually about 10 to 15. You collect these each day, enter them into your grade book, and return them to the students the next day. Get the students to calculate their totals for you before handing in. Following this homework review session, and after a short break, I then lecture to them on new material for the day, from about 8:35 until 9:45 or so. The teacher should sit in on this lecture for obvious reasons. This happens Monday through Thursday of each week.
Grading and Reviewing Exams. On Friday of each week, we start with the homework review session for Thursday's homework, followed by a short question-and-answer session led by the high school teacher. Students may have some questions about other material covered during the week that could be on the exam. This is followed by a one-hour quiz on the week's materials, instead of me lecturing. I write the exam. The teachers make up the grading key, point assignments and do the grading over the weekend so that they can return the tests and go over them on Monday (no homework is assigned on Friday so the students can get a rest). The tradition is that on Tuesday morning the student with the high score buys milk and donuts for the rest of the class (we will reimburse the expenses with a receipt).
Laboratory Assistants. After lecture each day there is a 10-minute break, and then the students go into the lab where they work on labs from a lab manual that I prepare for Quantitative Chemical Analysis. These are more or less "cookbook" labs. The last 2 weeks of the class will be spent on a research project of the students' own choosing. During the labs, you are expected to function as a traditional lab TA and safety monitor. I want you in the labs walking around and engaging the students. The teachers are expected to grade the lab reports, which are intentionally made to be a very short reporting of the quantitative result. The grading will be based on how close they get to the correct answers for unknowns that we make up or buy from commercial labs. In the lab is where I really need the help of the teachers to make things work and to solve problems that crop up.
Moral Leadership. One of the "intangible" jobs of the high school teachers is to act as a mother or father figure to these kids. Although they are smart, this will be their first experience in which all the other kids are as smart, or smarter, than they are. This will be a fast-moving college-level course. You need to keep a kind eye out for students falling behind, feeling depressed about their last test score, or just dragging for whatever reason. I will be the "bad cop" and you will be the "good cop" in the relationship with the students. We have found that they need lots of close attention and mentoring, and that each of them is different. With a small program like this, we can provide more individualized attention.
Application Process. If you are interested in this position, I would love to talk to you more about it. I'd like to see your resume and a letter from your department head and/or school principal. In your cover letter, provide me with a short explanation of why you are interested in this position, and how you will help me make it a great experience for our young chemists in the program.