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Chemistry Professor Offers Insight and Tips About Continuing Education at Home


By Dr. Alison Bray, TLU Chemistry Professor

(originally featured on the site New Braunfels COVID-19 Survival Guide)

We most unexpectedly have been sent on an uncharted mission as schools and universities have closed. Like all new adventures, this can come with some worry but also the opportunity to stretch ourselves and learn new things. I teach college chemistry and here are a few thoughts based on questions that I have received and ideas that have been shared with me.

First, know that your teachers from grade K through college have every intention of providing you with the best education possible using the technology that allows us to meet remotely, share videos and conduct lectures on line. Behind the scenes right now, we are sharing ideas, testing new technology and creating on line curriculum. We are dedicated to making this work. Learning will happen, credits will be earned and semesters will be completed.

What can you do to make this mission a success?

Parents: Help your children to establish a routine as if school was happening at school. Even your independent college students may need help with this as they are suddenly out of their normal college environment. While sticking to a rigorous minute by minute schedule is not for all, routine will help everyone to keep up on assignments and provide a sense of normalcy. Setting a routine will also help families to balance school work, family time, and parents work schedules.

Students: stay in contact with your teachers. Check your email and other communications from your teachers at least once a day. Information will be coming out quickly as we all figure out how to teach and learn in this new environment. Communicating with your teachers is essential. If you have questions: ask. We can’t help if we don’t know of a problem. We are used to seeing you in class, lab and camped out in our office hours, so please, keep in touch regularly so that we can help.

Finally, allow for mistakes, hiccups, quirks and surprises. In chemistry, we routinely experience experimental failure, but these experiments gone wrong are often what points us in the right direction towards solving a problem. Maybe the first Zoom lecture won’t be perfect, maybe the on-line quiz will crash the browser. It’s okay. It will happen for all of us and we just need to allow ourselves a moment of grace to pick up the pieces, check our compasses and get our mission back on track.

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