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Graduate Student Associates

What GSAs Do

What exactly do GSAs working at the Center for Teaching Excellence [formerly Teaching Resource Center (TRC)] do? Three former GSAs write about their experiences to give those interested in the position a more detailed idea about what it is like.

Bill Murad (GSA, 2002-03) From my first class as a T.A., I knew I loved teaching. Being a Graduate Student Associate at the Teaching Resource Center helped me understand exactly why and how much I loved it. My first major assignment, leading sessions at the August Teaching Workshop, brought me together with many new TAs, who were both nervous and excited about their impending appearances in a classroom. I sensed immediately how much my future peers wanted to become good teachers, and my future experiences only confirmed these initial impressions. Even the most troubled graduate students who came to the TRC listened intently to the student feedback from the Teaching Analysis Polls I conducted; and they eagerly discussed with me proven methods for improving their teaching and getting their students motivated and involved in the classroom. The smile we inevitably exchanged at the end of the conversation was the most fulfilling reward of all: I discovered that I shared their drive to improve and to share knowledge more effectively. This drive was what brought me to the TRC in the first place, and I count my experiences as a GSA here among my best at UVA. All the TRC staff members are so encouraging, enthusiastic, and helpful that they made training a breeze and proved to me that I would always enjoy both improving as a teacher and sharing my experiences with others.

Catherine Gardner (GSA, 1995-96) Much of my time as a TRC consultant was spent ‘out in the field’, working with individual TAs on videotaped consultations and teaching evaluations. This afforded me the opportunity so few of us get of seeing our peers teach. I found that I not only learned from the wide variety of teaching styles and methods that I saw, but I also had my own love for teaching reinforced again and again by the enthusiasm and dedication of the TAs I worked with. For this reason alone, my time as a TRC consultant has been more than worthwhile. But there’s more. . . . I also worked for the International TA training program, which gave me a chance to turn in some potentially Emmy-winning performances as a ‘difficult’ student during the role-playing of office-hours. Because this program continues throughout the semester, I was able to follow the changes in the teaching skills and confidence levels of the participants. It gave me a great sense of accomplishment to have been a part of those changes.

Candace Cone (GSA, 1995-96) The best part of this job has been getting to know so many dedicated teachers from all areas of the University. My own teaching has improved as I’ve had the opportunity to meet with TAs and talk about teaching. For instance, monthly meetings with the Undergraduate Student Focus Group have given me a chance to learn what students value in education. I feel very privileged to have been able to listen to so many undergraduates candidly relate their classroom experiences. Their honesty and openness have changed the way I view my own students. Doing video consultations gave me the chance to watch some wonderful teachers in action and provided me with many new ideas. I am better able to critique my own teaching after consulting with so many instructors. Creating workshops and programs such as the Teaching In Tongues Certificate-Bearing Seminar has provided me with the opportunity to learn from some of the most exciting instructors the University has to offer. I have been motivated by the knowledge and enthusiasm of both the presenters and the participants. And, of course, all of it accompanied by the best refreshments at UVa!