Today is officially the last day of my internship. Of course, my fellowship is far from over. I’ll be continuing to work on my curriculum and pilot it throughout the year (and continuing to write blog posts). But, after today, no more trips to the Roberts Lab. It is amazing how quickly four weeks have passed. At the beginning of the summer, four weeks sounded like plenty of time, and now I’m realizing that I could have used four more (and probably four more after that).
I have had a lot of fun here at the lab, but also had some struggles along the way. It was interesting, and hard, to step into the student role when I’m so used to being the teacher. I had to get really comfortable with asking for help, and with saying, “I don’t get it.” I was lucky that I was able to do that because I was surrounded by such good teachers. Everyone from the undergrads to Dr. Roberts made the time to show me what they were doing and help me understand, and help me find the resources I needed.
It was also great that I was able to somewhat make my own plan. Because I’m the first Kenan Fellow in this lab, there was no set schedule of what I would do when. We started with a plan this first week, but as my curriculum developed, and because people were so willing to share their work, I was able to say that I needed to see more of this, but that that didn’t fit in so well with what I needed.
The thing that was most surprising to me, I think, was seeing how much coordination and collaboration are needed in a busy lab like this one. There are so many different projects going on, and different combinations of people working on each one. All of the fish share one space, so there are negotiations about who needs what room where. There are schedules for using different equipment and workspaces. And all of that doesn’t even take into account the challenges of sharing equipment with another lab. Of course, it doesn’t always go smoothly, but it is amazing how much can get done with limited time and resources when the communication is clear and thoughtful.
After a year of teaching in which I heard a lot of complaints about group work, and how students should just be able to do their own projects all the time, this is a good reminder that there really are strong reasons for forcing students past that comfort zone so that they can build the skills they’ll need to work with other people in the future.