Thoughts on teaching geology

As a write this, my GSCI 100 summer school students are taking their final exam (it isn’t cumulative, in case you are wondering).  The last six weeks represent my first full-course teaching experience since I joined the library world in 2005.

An image of the Marcellus Shale
An outcrop of the Marcellus Shale

It was fun and exhausting.

It was fun to talk about geology again.  I love my job, I love libraries, and I love the quest for information.  But my first love was the natural world, and the study of it through the lens of geology.  My librarian colleagues can attest to my occasional mini lectures on geologic topics (especially when they are trapped in vehicles on the way to conferences), but it was great to share more detail on these topics with a group of students.  I got to talk about climate change and the Marcellus Shale and flooding.  We talked about the recent earthquake that was felt in Western New York and the geology behind other recent earthquakes.

But it was also exhausting.  During summer school, a typical 14 week class is compressed into 6 weeks.  Which means that my preparation time for this class was compressed, too.  Because I haven’t taught an intro geology class in 5 years, and because the student’s textbook was new to me, I had a lot of prep work to do.  Most of my evenings (after my daughter is in bed) have been spent at my kitchen table on my laptop working on lectures and labs for upcoming classes.  Many nights, I have had to stay up late finishing grading or lectures!

Folks have been asking me, “Would you teach it again?”  I’ve said that I might.  Course prep for next time probably wouldn’t be as onerous, and the extra money is nice.  It is a great way to stay in the world of geology, and to share my love of this subject with students.  We’ll see what happens – the geoscience department may not need my help again.

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