The Paradox of Teaching & Being a Student

This term has been a balancing act – my first term in a new program and my first term as a sessional (adjunct) instructor.

I previously was employed as a teaching assistant for two years and had the good fortune to work with a very experienced professor and another much more experienced TA in a new graduate level seminar course. I had the opportunity to help develop the course, teach a few lectures, organize a student conference and do minimal marking. It was the best way to learn if I wanted to be a professor and my conclusion at the end was that I wanted to pursue teaching in some form. This term I am teaching undergrads for the first time ever and most of the course is online, so that has been a real shift in my planning and how I interact with the class. It is also a bit odd being a teacher and being a student at the same time – when I was a TA, I felt like I had more free rein to relate to the students and remind them I was also a student, albeit at a different level. However, now I feel like the bar has been raised. I am fully responsible for these students and their experience in my course and sometimes that feels like a lot of responsibility!

I feel like there is a lot of discussion about teaching as part of a professorship but not much time or attention given to teaching grad students how to be effective instructors. UBC-O has an amazing course for new scholars who want to improve their teaching skills: http://www.ubc.ca/okanagan/ctl/tagrad/credprog.html and UBC-V has some great workshops and resources as well: http://ctlt.ubc.ca/programs/graduate-student-ta-programs/ The Instructional Skills Workshop comes highly recommended and will give you a notation on your transcript once you successfully complete it: http://ctlt.ubc.ca/programs/all-our-programs/instructional-skills-workshops/

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