The Keys to Success as a Teaching
Presented by Amy Hollingsworth
The University of Akron
Who am I?
• Undergrad in Biology, Masters in Education,
PhD in Secondary Education with an emphasis
on STEM Education
• Six years as a Biology Laboratory Coordinator
• Trained and worked with over 150 graduate
First things first. What should I call my
advisor and co-workers?
• Professor, Instructor, Mr., Miss, Dr., just ask.
• Err on the side of formality, until you are told
• Good questions to ask as you get to know your peers
and mentors – What is your research interest? Where
are you from originally? What do you like to do in your
spare time? (usually met with laughter)
Why am I here?
• Student, teacher, and something in between
• Professional Development
• Becoming a teaching assistant entails learning
and performing tasks, the acquisition and
nurturing of relationships with mentors and new
colleagues, and the early stages of developing
an individualized approach to teaching
And Research has Shown..
• Graduate Students' Teaching Experiences
Improve Their Methodological Research Skills.
Things to ask your department
• How do I go about…
• balancing graduate school and teaching,
• giving and accepting criticism,
• handling upset students,
• classroom ethics,
• appropriateness of making exceptions to rules,
• saying "no" to students,
• establishing authority.
• Perry (1968) describes an individual's
development as moving away from a
"right/wrong“ dichotomous approach, to a
formulation, recognition, and commitment to
one's personal perspective amongst of
• Keep good notes
• Journaling or blogging
• Zotero or RefWorks
• Evernote, Google Groups/Sites
• Scan and enter every slip of paper
• Keep your CV up to date
• Record other TAs, practice your teaching, record
Working with Your Advisor
• Ask EXACTLY what is expected of you –
– time in lab,
– time teaching,
– time writing
– Ask about formats
– Your advisor is trying to juggle teaching, research, and
service with a life – don’t take their moods personally
Find a Mentor
• Even if no one is “assigned” to you
• Ask your advisor for a peer mentor
• Surround yourself with success
Embrace things that are
• When things feel uncomfortable to you, there
is a reason why.
• Dialogue with yourself
• Look for understanding
• Try new things – even outside your field
• Talk to everyone – you never know when the
AHA! moment might be.
• Experience with students will be completely
different than your own journey
• Diversity is more than just nationality, ethnicity,
or skin color.
• EVERYONE has a different story, a different
journey, and a different viewpoint. That doesn’t
make them wrong, it makes the different!
The Future Professoriate
• Graduate students may be described as the
"ambassadors of our disciplines"( Nyquist
and Wulff 1996)
• Go forth, and make your discipine proud!