Background, briefly: this term, I’ve been the lead lecture teaching assistant (TA) for Principles of Biology (BIO 251) at Portland State. The Principles series goes all year and is required for many majors, like Biology, Environmental Sciences, and Pre-Med. 251 is mostly intro to molecular, which is my wheelhouse. When the opportunity came up to be the first lecture lead in a pilot system for the course using a pedagogy known as Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL), I jumped at it. I’ve got a lot to say about the experience, which was overwhelmingly positive, but I wanted to address that much before I tell you how funny I am.
I am hilarious.
Today was the last day of Fall Term. Our 251 students had their last midterm Wednesday, and today we held a review session for them. That review session, because Dr. B (the head prof) is very, very generous, is going over the entirety of last year’s final examination and letting students ask questions if they don’t understand. Since I’ve been in lecture every week and helped design the POGIL small group sessions, he asked me if I wanted to tag team the questions and present half. “Sure,” I said, having been in the lab until midnight the night before. “That sounds great. Let me continue chugging coffee.”
I wrap up a question on the electron transport chain, addressing high energy molecules that drive it. I said, “If this is confusing, please see [X Diagram] on the ETC.”
“ETC?” asks Dr. B.
“Electron Transport Chain,” I clarified. “I’m sorry, it’s what all the hip young biologists are saying. ‘You down with ETC? Yeah, you know me.'”
The class explodes as I move on to the next question, but we get through the end of my first question set as Dr. B is in the corner still trying to recover. He tags in. “I think that joke is past its expiration date,” he quips. A few “boos” surprised him. He tags me back in for the last part. “I promise to try to fit at least one more 90’s era rap joke in this set,” I promise.
As the students are clicking in for the first question, Dr. B comes over and motions for me to turn off my mic. He leans in and says, “How about ‘Can’t Touch This’ or ‘Ice Ice Baby’?” I laughed. “WHAT?” As he’s going back to the corner, he says, “90’s music references. I’m just giving you ideas.” Class titters.
“I’m sorry, class,” I address them, “Dr. B has to help me with my 90’s rap references because I don’t remember the 90’s very well.”
Then they made me sing part of the PCR song.
And it’s all on video for them to see over and over again, or at least until the class is over next week.
I’m totally funny. Whatever. You guys don’t even know.