Thursday, September 1, 2011

TA Training

The engineering school here at GiantU runs a training session for new TAs, and I have to say that I was surprised by how well done it was. While as a lab TA, there was a lot I'm not going to have to think about, it was still interesting and dynamic, and I may have actually learned something. Things I think they did really well:

1)Session changeups: we weren't just sitting in a room being talked at the entire time
2)Peer feedback: we weren't just getting critiqued by some "teaching expert", we were giving each other feedback
3) Variable session sizes: You interacted with a wider group of people, and were able to do activities like mini-lectures and still have time for good feedback discussions
4) Coffee supplies: grad students aren't usually morning people, so ample coffee supplies were appreciated

The less good:
1) For the love of bladders, BATHROOM BREAKS!
2) Since this is the engineering session, please stop using humanities examples: we aren't going to ask students about their favorite quotation from a thermodynamics book
3) Break up Discussion and Lab sessions
4) The handout mountain: many of the session instructions were given in the powerpoint, in the powerpoint print out, and as a separate sheet

I'm still nervous about teaching a lab, particularly because I have the first section of the week, where we get to sort out all the bugs, but I'm super excited to spend time in a *lab* instead of on a computer.

Also, preliminary oral exam next week...  aaaaah!!!

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