Graduate Student Teaching Consultant
One of the most satisfying experiences for me in the last two years has been the opportunity to serve as a graduate student teaching consultant for Stanford's Center for Teaching and Learning. As a teaching consultant, I conduct small group midterm evaluations to collect feedback from their students, provide video consultations for graduate student TA's, run microteaching events to help train future TA's, and design and conduct workshops on various aspects of teaching.
Helping other grad students get the most out of their teaching experiences is rewarding, but what surprised me the most is how much I enjoy working with TAs from very different disciplines. When I first started as a consultant, I worked mostly with humanities PhDs, particularly those teaching language, since that's where I felt my own expertise was. Fairly quickly, however, I stepped outside my comfort zone and did a video consultation for a TA in Earth Sciences. In the ensuing conversation, I was able to suggest particular student engagement techniques that had worked well for me in my language classes, such as small group work and Think-Pair-Share. In general, whenever I conduct a consultation for a TA who is lecturing for the first time, I encourage them to think of the lecture as a dialogue, and to give students the chance to participate.
In working as a graduate student teaching consultant and in utilizing CTL services to get feedback on my own teaching, I've become convinced of the importance of interdisciplinary discussions about teaching. The humanities and the sciences approach teaching very differently, and there are areas in which we all excel; the humanities have thought a lot about student engagement and discussion in a small classroom, while the sciences have really honed hands-on, lab-based teaching. Instructors from very different fields have a lot to learn from each other, and we should consider regularly leaving our silos to dialogue about our pedagogy.