The CUTF: A Transformative Journey

Hello everyone! As my journey with the CUTF comes to an end, I have reflected intensively on how the fellowship has allowed me to grow professionally and develop my teaching skills. However above all, the CUTF has taught me the importance of a flexible and open mindset. Teaching is a skill that requires utmost patience. After all, we all learn in different ways and it is essential that these differences are addressed.

As I have mentioned in my initial blog post, Organic Chemistry 2 is a difficult subject to learn for students and a difficult subject to teach for professors. A significant portion of the learning curve involves visualizing how molecules interact in the 3D world and how electrons flow and move between atoms. As a result, students are expected to digest a large amount of information and form theoretical connections between complex ideas in a rather short period of time. Working alongside Dr. Powell over this past semester, we have spent tireless hours creating an easy to understand guide that students can utilize to supplement their different learning styles, reinforcing key concepts and forcing students to make connections between theoretical ideas. Looking back at all the progress I have made as a teaching assistant, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity that the CUTF has granted me.

This past semester, I have been introduced to new teaching techniques that I believe will help me become a better student in the long-term. For instance, when creating the quickfire questions in my minilectures, Dr. Powell encouraged me to formulate my questions in a way that is constructive of the students’ progress. Furthermore, she encouraged me to introduce graphics and colorful transitions that may help students to focus on the big idea. When handed large sums of information in a short period of time, sometimes it is that much better to break it down to smaller easier-to-understand bits and pieces.

A screenshot from my most recent minilecture explaining the regiochemical implications of the Diels-Alder Reaction!

In the end, the CUTF has provided me a unique opportunity to survey the teaching side of academia. By taking on the role of a teaching assistant, I believe I now have a better understanding of how different students approach a lesson in different ways. Personally, this has helped me optimize my own studying habits. Looking into the future, I will try to incorporate more active learning styles to promote long-term retention, something that is essential in medical school. In the near future, I will use the learning tools I have created to aid my own studying for the MCAT. After all, learning is an endless process and one can never truly master a topic without being able to teach it to others.

Leave a Reply