Thursday, August 24, 2017

Camosun College Chemistry prof Silvija Smith on ice cream and embracing technology

March 29, 2017 by Adam Boyle, staff writer

Know Your Profs is an ongoing series of profiles on the instructors at Camosun College. Every issue we ask a different instructor at Camosun the same 10 questions in an attempt to get to know them a little better.

If you have an instructor you’d like to see interviewed in the paper, but perhaps you’re too busy (or too shy) to ask them yourself, we can help. Just email editor@nexusnewspaper.com and we’ll add them to our never-ending list of teachers to talk to.

This issue we caught up with Chemistry prof Silvija Smith to talk about Okanagan cherries, student gratification, and success in the classroom.

1. What do you teach and how long have you been teaching at Camosun?

I’m a sessional instructor for the Chemistry department and have only been teaching at Camosun for one term previous to the current one.

Camosun’s Silvija Smith feels privileged to be part of students’ lives (photo by Jill Westby/Nexus).

2. What do you personally get out of teaching?

Gratification—knowing in a small way I help others advance toward fulfilling their dreams. I teach many students who will become nurses, doctors, dental hygienists, and lab technicians, and knowing that I’m a small part of their success allows me to celebrate along with them.

3. What’s one thing you wish your students knew about you?

My students may attest that they may know way too much about me. I feel privileged to be a part of their lives, if just for a class, and assisting them in reaching their goals and fulfilling their dreams, whether that is in chemistry or an entirely different field.

4. What’s one thing you wish they didn’t know about you?

I care about my students and therefore have no problem answering any of their questions.

5. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you as a teacher here?

Seeing students succeed. Learning isn’t just about getting As, it’s about growing as an individual, both professionally and personally, and achieving the goals one sets for themselves. If students leave my class understanding chemistry and had fun while learning, I’ve achieved one of my goals as an educator.

6. What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you as a teacher here?

Not being able to register all of the students who want to take my class.

7. What do you see in the future of post-secondary education?

The continuation of open-minded instructors embracing advances in technology by incorporating alternative teaching methods into traditional lecture delivery. In the classroom, I perform science demonstrations, allowing students to see how the theoretical chemistry taught in lectures can be applicable in the “real world.” Outside of the classroom, students complete assignments online, providing them instant feedback and suggestions to areas requiring improvement. Additionally, online resources—such as D2L and email—allow students easy access to up-to-date marks and course content, and allow for communication with the instructor regardless if the student or instructor is on campus, making help more accessible.

8. What do you do to relax on the weekends?

I really enjoy having dinner with friends, going to the movies, and learning new things. Recently, I’ve been learning archery.

9. What is your favourite meal?

Ice cream. Doesn’t everyone eat that as a meal? I’m a person who loves food. I feel very lucky to be living on the coast, where I can enjoy fresh seafood regularly, along with delicious cherries from the Okanagan.

10. What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Individuals not willing to learn.

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