Saturday, June 28, 2008

The teaching is over... For now

I just finished teaching my 5-week intensive summer course yesterday! Holy Shit ... I don't know how you real professors do it. Granted it was 18-22 hours of contact time a week, not very well organized by the lab staff (but at least I DID have lab staff!) and something I've never taught before. I was seriously working 14 hours a day nearly 7 days a week. Nate nearly mutinied because I never had time to spend with him. How DO you guys stay sane???

It was a biotechnology summer college course for high school students. Highlights were when they drew pictures on petri plates with glowing bacteria and got to see glowing pictures the next day, when one of the students told me she came in to the class thinking biotech was probably something she'd like and left the class knowing for sure that she really loved it, and when my students gave a series of (generally) excellent powerpoint presentations. Low points were when I couldn't lecture because they wouldn't settle the hell down (never put it that way to them but wanted to), when they got frustrated and angry trying to do the sequence editing lab I had stayed up til' two to prepare, and when I caught two of them in blatant plagiarism on the written project. They swore right and left that it was an ACCIDENT that 2/3 of a page was word for word the same as websites that they hadn't even cited. Man! When I didn't love them I hated them and when I didn't hate them I loved them, but they were all basically really neat kids. All 15 or 16 with one 14 yr old.

One cool thing is that I talked a local lab into sequencing our mitochondrial HVR1 genes for free. The cool as shit thing is that I have haplogroup A, which came out of Africa through Asia and across the Bering Land Bridge and into the Americas about 20,000 yrs ago. I had no idea that I had a single ancestor that wasn't European all the way, but apparently I do (and in the direct maternal line). My mom's side of the family has been in America for at least 250 years and probably more (maybe 20,000 or so), so I'm betting that one of those great grandmothers was Native American (as opposed to Asian, which is also possible). Absolutely no family record of it, though! Kinda gives me tingles to think I have native mitochondria. Well, OK, I'm romanticising a little!

Wikipedia has a cool map of haplotype migrations.


Irene said...

That biotech course for high-schoolers sounds awesome, and very ambitious - congratulations for surviving it!

Sparkling Squirrel said...

Summer programs are way much work. Jennifer and Beth have commented as much on their blogs recently and I haven't commented, just because after having high school students and high school teachers in the same week, I was just too tired to talk about it. Congrats for surviving and it does sound super fun. Have a great trip!

Jennifer said...

Hi TT,
Sounds like you put a lot of work into this course, and that you did a great job.

As for staying sane - well first, summers are way more intense than the school year, but for me, sometimes I just had to let go and accept the fact that not all my lectures would be great. And that sometimes my labs would fail. In fact, I told my plant bio students that we were all doing the labs together for the first time.