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‘My days just fly by’

Why I Teach: chemistry teacher Josh Rose

Lowell chemistry teacher Josh Rose makes up ditties like this one to help students remember what they are learning  

Lowell Josh Rose is in his 26th year teaching chemistry at Lowell High School. He began his career at Dakota High School in Chippewa Valley Schools and also taught at Lakewood High School, in Lake Odessa, before starting at Lowell High School in 2016. He is also a musician and has a band called Josh Rose and the Founding Fathers. In class, he is known to perform folksy ditties about elements, compounds and reactions.

What is the thing that gets you up in the morning and excited about teaching? “I always feel like the measure of my job is how fast the days go. I look up at the end of the day and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s 2:30!’ My days just fly by. It’s because I’m a super extrovert, so I get energy from the kids and then I’m able to provide a lot of energy back to the kids. That constant flow of energy just keeps my day going.”

What are some of the biggest challenges in teaching? “You have to continually be able to reinvent yourself. That not only was a COVID factor, it’s also been a factor of state testing and AP rigor. I have been through four or five (academic) standards realignments in my career. 

“I remember when I first started teaching in 1998, the book kind of drove the curriculum. Whatever book the school had, you went by. That’s definitely a thing of the past. I’ve been constantly reinventing myself and my ways of teaching for 26 years.”

Josh Rose holds a chunk of silver created in a lab where he teaches his chemistry students
Josh Rose holds a chunk of silver created in a lab where he teaches his chemistry students

How do you strive to meet that challenge? “I try to embrace effective technology but keep my feet grounded in the real world. I try not to jump all in with the newest trends because I’ve seen so many classroom and teaching ideas go to the graveyard, and after those things go to the graveyard, it’s just me again having to reinvent myself. I try not to jump 100% into the waters when a new trend comes up. 

“That said, a lot of things during COVID helped my teaching, like Google Classroom, and I was also able to videotape all my lessons.  Now when I’m absent I have a video lesson for every one of my classes. That was a super bonus during COVID.”

What’s the most amazing thing about high school students? “I really enjoy teaching high school students because we are able to have fun in the classroom … I really appreciate how high school kids can have fun and then reset and get serious. They bring that good mix of fun and learning.”

What do you like about teaching chemistry? “I love science …  What I love about chemistry is it shows you the secrets of the universe.”

‘I’ve been constantly reinventing myself and my ways of teaching for 26 years.’

— Josh Rose

What’s your favorite experiment? “I really like the lab when we make silver metal (a single replacement reaction with silver nitrate and copper). We have a huge rock of silver (made from the experiment ). We weigh it and I show the kids how much money it’s worth, because they are really impressed. We look up what silver is worth on the metal exchange and we usually only have about 60 bucks worth of silver.”

Do you ever use your music in your teaching? “Yeah, all the time. I sing daily. I make up little ditties that help the kids remember stuff.”

What would you say to someone considering teaching as a profession? “You have to have in today’s teaching environment the right characteristics: flexibility, and you have to bring energy into the classroom. Kids have so many other distractions and so many other forms of entertainment available to them. You have to make sure your teaching environment is filled with energy. You’re dealing with 15- to 18-year-olds and there are so many ways for them to check out. You have to pull everybody toward engagement.”

Read more from Lowell: 
Another year of practice, perform, perfect
Off to a good start: families tour their nearly complete, reconstructed middle school

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is managing editor and reporter, covering Kentwood, Lowell and Wyoming. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013, and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio


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