I have a lot to learn about teaching.
How do you convey all that you have learned and experienced as a therapist to students? And how do you do that without letting your biases influence the conversation? What is the best way to test students’ knowledge and engage them in discussions? What if they don’t like me? Or worse, they ask questions I don’t know the answer to or tell them the wrong information?
All of these thoughts have swirled in my head at one time or another, some with frequent appearances. Sitting in the back row, listening to the lecture and discussion, watching body language, and gauging the vibes of the room has taught me a lot. But I still have a ways to go.
I know some skills are natural. I’m comfortable in front of class. Public speaking is a breeze, it’s the one on one conversations that make me nervous. My powerpoint skills are decent and thanks to a couple workshops they are getting better. I am getting better at receiving feedback.
A supportive mentor is important.
I have had the privilege to work with a very encouraging, interactive, professor that has shown me respect and provided inspiration to pursue teaching. She communicates with me frequently to discuss teaching strategy, talks with me as though I am a peer, and passes along information that I may be interested in. She is dynamic in the classroom and has skills that I aspire to achieve. This is hugely motivating.
Take advantage of every opportunity.
When you are asked if you want to do the lecture, you say yes. When you are asked to lead the lab activity, you say yes. You lead a review session. You make yourself available for one on one reviews with students that request it. Any opportunity you get to interact with students at any level is an opportunity for growth and passing on that may be a mistake.
I was also fortunate to participate in several workshops offered by the graduate school. Topics covered everything from visual data design, mastering a poster session, and how to manage social media. These are skills I can use in my professional, personal, and teaching life.
Build in time for you and your family.
I had to set clear boundaries. Know when to say yes or no. Creating a clear schedule helped me stay organized and realize that there was time for me and my family. My home is especially stressful as my husband and I are both going for advanced degrees and working. It is very important to both of us to carve out time for each other. At the same time, we needed to respect when the other was deep in work and stressed. Patience will help you get through.
I still want to teach!
That has to be a huge win right?
There is only one first semester and this was a great one. Now time to prepare for the second semester!