End of the semester already..say what?!
Looking back over the semester I have learned so many things about teaching that I did not know before including:
-The thought process on how to go about teaching to a large lecture hall of students and to make them all feel engaged. I learned many tips in regards to this before we gave our TA lectures from Dr. G. Some of them included to look around the whole room, move, change the tone and speed in your voice, and ask questions to get students engaged and paying attention. I also learned in “Teaching Tips” how to start a discussion/lecture by sharing a common experience, staring with questions, or starting with a problem or case. I noticed that Dr. G used a lot of these tips in the beginning of his lectures and got students interested. I also noticed how many of my teachers in other classes do not use any of these tips (resulting in a boring lecture).
-I learned a lot about the decisions process on what to do when students ask about things like extra credit, make-up assignments, missed classes, and more. A lot of times Dr. Gurung asked the TA’s what he thought about some student’s situations and if they should be excused. I leaned how to look at things from different perspectives from listening to everyone’s thoughts and the decisions made in result of our discussions. We did this a lot after class or during our biweekly meetings. I noticed that Dr. G used a lot of the tips in the section “dealing with student problems” in the McKeachie book such as: keeping his cool and not having to respond immediately, talk to colleagues (TA’s) and ask what we would do, and he always kept in mind that students are human beings and are seeking his help at times.
-I learned a lot in regards to how to write multiple choice questions. I used Dr. G’s tips on how to write multiple choice questions when writing them. I never thought about a lot of those tips, and noticed many of my professors don’t abide to those tips, but rather do what you’re not supposed do when writing multiple choice questions.
-I also learned the importance of communicating effectively to students (e-mail, Facebook, d2l). I learned that in order to build rapport with students, communicating with them about reminders mean a lot to them. I know that as a student (especially being an anal student), I love reminders or clarification via e-mail from professors. I’ve learned to send weekly or biweekly e-mail reminders or updates to students. I also learned how using Facebook can provide new opportunities for enhancing student learning (as discussed by McKeachie). Having a Facebook page really opened my eyes and made me realize how students are truly interesting in psychology-related things outside of class and are willing to share to the class via Facebook.
My overall reflection of my TA experience was that it was a great learning experience. I was able to go behind the scenes of a class and learn how it was constructed and help in the decision making for some circumstances. I really enjoyed feeling like a leader to the students and feel responsible for communicating with my “pod”. This also helped to give me a different perspective because instead of taking a class, taking notes, and taking exams, I was able to see it from a teacher’s point of view. I was able to take on some teacher’s roles such as writing exam questions, facilitating taking attendance, walking around the class to help during in-class assignment time, grade assignments, enter grades, give a lecture, answer student questions, and much more. I thought it was a great learning experience and I hope I can take what I’ve learned and use it in my last year at UWGB as well as graduate school (hopefully!). I will also look at all of my classes differently and compare it to what we have learned about teaching in the TA experience. I will also give teachers more credit for the amount of time and thought they put into their class based on what we have seen Dr. Gurung do with his Intro to Psychology class.