Just like last year, I am currently teaching Physics 691G – Graduate Student Professional Development Seminar. This course has multiple goals that it pursues through the lens of TA training:
- Making sure our new graduate students are ready for those first few days of TAing
- Provide an opportunity for new graduate students to reflect on their new identity as they move from students to research colleagues
- Provide an opportunity to explore the ideas of modern research-based pedagogy
- Provide an opportunity to explore some professional development skills such as presentation giving which are deeply connected to their experience as TAs
This is quite an ambitious list for a course that meets for one-hour per week and also, by design, tries to keep the outside-of-class workload down (new graduate students are busy after all!). One thing I am noticing in particular this round as I have continued to refine the course is the persistence of the idea that explaining content is a teacher’s number-one job. An idea that is clearly challenged by the modern literature’s focus on the importance of student construction of knowledge.