As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m teaching undergraduates this semester in exchange for a tuition waiver, a stipend, and health insurance. It’s been going well so far and I really enjoy it!
Each week, I teach one three-hour lab on Monday, have a three-hour meeting with the other GSIs and the course instructor, and hold three hours of office hours in the lab. The lab is set up for students to come in outside lab time to complete projects, so I’m in and out at other times, checking on students’ experiments. I also get to create a lab handout each week, which takes time, as well as grade homework, lab reports, quizzes and exams. I was told to plan on it taking about 20 hours/week, and it’s taking about that much time. That’s on top of my 16 hours/week social work field placement!
In the lab, I teach the lab techniques for the week and explain the steps of the experiments. We have six projects this semester, and the longest one is a 7-week fruit fly experiment. We’re squarely in the middle and it’s going well! It’s been fun so far, listening to the students reactions to looking at the flies under the microscope and such.
The other thing that I’ve noticed about teaching is how I now look at my own instructors. We do so much back-end planning for each week’s lab, to make sure everything goes well. I didn’t really think before how much planning professors have to do outside classtime – I just assumed ‘hey – they’re the experts in the field, what planning do they really have to do?’. Now I know it’s A LOT of planning! I also get to help write the exams, the first of which is coming up soon. That’s interesting, too, because I have to make sure the questions aren’t too easy, but aren’t too tricky.