What I’ve Learned About Teaching

I haven’t had extensive classroom teaching experience yet: I TA’ed forestry practicum twice over the summer at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and TA’ed 2 sections of introductory astronomy lab when I was an undergrad. My students helped teach me how to helpfully communicate new concepts, and a few ubiquitous patterns played out, such as: you always get some great students and some tough ones. Some are kind, interested and/or have a special talent for the material. Others are rude and/or just frustrated, and take it out on you or the class material in some way. Some just don’t care, and either quietly tune out or make it obvious. In some way, though, I reached most of them before the end of the course.

Generally speaking, I do think I dislike the broken system of grading as motivation. It’s not motivation to truly learn and remember a concept for its sake. I do understand the concept of introducing students to something they can draw on later if they must, and sometimes forcing them to learn it for a test might be what makes them remember something about it down the line. Also, sometimes you have the good fortune of teaching them about a generality within the framework of your specific topic.

Forestry Practicum

I was responsible for teaching intro. to birding (which was a blast)! Some students had a natural interest, whereas others only had to learn it for the course, so there was a baseline gradient of engagement.

Intro. Astronomy

I don’t think this class had any prerequisites, and was open to all majors. Some took it as an easy science class to tick off their science requirement, since it was designed to be friendly to non-majors. Some students were my friends, in the same year and degree program as me (junior physics major at the time).


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