Graduate Student Teacher Journey



By Noura Sheikhalzoor, Graduate Student, College of Pharmacy and Nutrition

Teaching has been a rich and rewarding part of my graduate school experience. It added a new flavour to what I have been already doing in my program of courses and research. My teaching experience has taught me a lot on the technical and personal levels. I started my M.Sc. program with teaching responsibilities as part of a scholarship I earned and I was given the opportunity to be a teaching assistant (TA) to be a lab instructor and mark assignments.

Through this post, I would like to take you in a journey with me to one of my classrooms. Are you ready?

Before My Class

Before we enter the class, I need to prepare my lesson plan and materials. I make sure that I have clear learning objectives and a realistic plan for my lesson. I also prepare handouts and teaching materials, if needed, such as slides, markers, flipchart paper that will make my lesson interesting and easy to follow. I use models, visuals, and even stories.

Noura's ClassroomIn My Classroom

Now that I am ready with my plan and materials, I go to my class early to arrange the class set-up to fit my lesson. I then welcome students with a smile and I bring my energy and enthusiasm to the lesson. I use a variety of activities and teaching strategies like think-pair-share, group work, story telling (even in labs), etc. I try to also vary between the use of computer technology and low technology.

After the lesson

When my lesson is done, I sometimes ask students for feedback using a variety of methods. I then reflect on my lesson to see what went well, what needs improvement, and how I could incorporate needed changes in my future teaching. I commit to continuous reflection that will help me develop a teaching development plan and allow me to explore new ways of teaching.

Building Relationships and Seeking Mentors

Along the way as a TA, new relationships are built as you meet people such as students and mentors. Building a good rapport with students is important. It really helps in making teaching more effective and these relationships could last for a lifetime. I always tell my students that we might work together one day!

As a TA, I also work with professors and other graduate students and learn from their experiences.

Continuous Learning and Development of Teaching

Development of teaching knowledge and skills is an essential part of the teaching process. To do that, I completed courses such as GSR 989: Philosophy and Practice of University Teaching, Introduction to Teaching Online and workshops such as Instructional Skills Workshop and many other workshops on learning technologies, assessment, teaching strategies, flipped teaching and other teaching and learning topics through the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness (GMCTE).

Teaching PortfolioUnderstanding myself as a Teacher

Finally, understanding myself as a teacher is one part that has developed from learning and reflecting on my teaching. During my university teaching experience, I developed my teaching philosophy statement and my reflective teaching portfolio, both of which I am proud of!

I consider teaching to be my reward in graduate school. I would like to acknowledge all of my students, mentors, and the GMCTE for enriching my graduate school experiences and making days memorable.

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