Posts Tagged ‘Chemistry’


     My path to teaching was long and nontraditional but then, that is becoming more common so perhaps it’s not so different after all.    This is in response to a bit of a tweak by Wayne who told his story.  I have also been thinking about the shift to a new mindset required by career changes and new situations.

     Growing up, I was the girl who loved taking care of the littler ones.  When I was eleven, my best friend and I ran a nursery school where we walked around the neighborhood with our wagons and picked up six three- and four-year olds and spent the morning doing activities and crafts with them.  I think we charged fifty cents each and we though we were rich making $1.50 per day.  It’s a good thing we got all the toys and art supplies from our moms!   I planned to teach and coach gymnastics when I grew up and had examples in both of my parents for that dream.

     When I was considering colleges and majors, it was a period when there were not many teaching jobs.  Opportunities were opening for women in science so I decided on my favorite subject in high school, Chemistry.   Open, as a descriptor for those opportunities, might be a stretch because many doors still remained closed and those that opened were just a small opening ready to close at any moment.  My freshman advisor told me that women didn’t major in Chemistry and I should find something else to do.   When I started working, women were expected to fit into the corporate or university mold made by men.   There was little appreciation for multiple learning styles or problem-solving approaches – at least in the beginning.

     I worked as a Chemist and a Chemical Engineer for a large multinational corporation for more than a decade and enjoyed it – the challenging work, the travel (including Italy on an expense account), the science…  I became involved with engineering because of my interest in and ability with computers and ended up programming equipment to manufacture photographic emulsions until the plant closed and I decided to be home with my kids for a year or two.   It lasted a bit longer than that.

     Thanks to my own children, now 11 and 13, I got involved with large groups of kids again.  I found that – whether it was volunteering in their classrooms or school library, leading the Scouts, or working with kids at church – I was happiest when I was around kids, lots of them.   As I began to think about what to do next, I realized that I still was passionate about science – corporate life was not appealing so I went back to the original plan of teaching.   I’m no longer interested in coaching gymnastics but some sort of science club would be great fun!

     I have been thinking about the different mindsets required for engineering and for teaching.   Engineers are always looking for and finding problems with things – computer programmers might be worse.   This makes us seem negative but we are so confident in our ability to solve the problems that it is just what we do and it’s fun.    I think teachers have to be a lot more positive and need to be able to go with the flow in a way that engineers find difficult.   I need to get better at ignoring things that need fixing and just focus on that which is within my control.  The teaching and learning are what is important.  I need to let the rest of it go so I can be more positive.   Attitude seems to be almost everything when working with kids!


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