Some student’s struggle adapting to new teaching styles each semester. Well, flip the role and imagine the challenge instructors face trying to adapt to the multiple learning styles within each class. It’s a challenge that junior biochemistry major Bailey Peterson faces every week in her lab sections, and it’s one she’s embraced with a little creativity.
Peterson, awarded a Spring 2017 Citation for Excellence in Teaching Chemistry for her dedication and creativity in teaching, adds a personal touch to every class and individual she interacts with.
“It’s very rewarding that I get to form relationships with my students. Just being able to completely interact with someone I’ve never met before, let alone 24 of them, and learn their different learning styles has really pushed me,” Peterson said.
Peterson teaches with a hands-on approach, as she likes to personalize the lessons for each class. Instead of simply reading from the slides, Peterson prefers to get the materials out and walk through the lesson in a demonstrative way. Every student learns differently, but she finds the concepts are easier to explain when her students can visualize them.
Coordinator of General Chemistry Professor Jason Kautz believes it’s Peterson’s hands-on approach that makes her a dynamic teaching assistant, and it’s a big reason she was recognized with the award.
“Bailey doesn’t just introduce the material and set her students free. She monitors the lab to make sure each group is understanding the concepts,” Kautz said. “It’s obvious she cares about her students’ success.”
It didn’t take long for Peterson to form her own teaching style. This semester was her second as a teaching assistant, and it was her first time teaching a Chemistry 110 lab, as last fall she taught a Chemistry 109 section. As each semester progressed, Peterson has become more confident and energetic in her teaching. She has also become more comfortable sharing her passion for chemistry with her students, which she feels is important to be a good teaching assistant.
“Be confident and be excited about teaching. Don’t be afraid to show your students you love chemistry,” Peterson said.
Working as a teaching assistant has also shown Peterson that teaching isn’t a one-way street. She has learned how to interact with dozens of different personalities, which is helping her prepare for what she hopes to be a future in dentistry. Along with gaining a stronger understanding of the subject, this hopeful dentist has developed leadership and social skills that will be important in her future career.
“Being able to interact with tons of different types of people is huge for me, and I’m really building my confidence as a leader,” Peterson said.
When she isn’t studying or teaching, Peterson spends her free time riding horses. She is a member of the University of Nebraska – Lincoln Equestrian team and won a national championship in 2016.
“I absolutely love riding horses,” Peterson said. “Anytime I have free time, that’s where I’m at.”
Peterson plans to graduate in May 2018 and go on to dental school after that.