In the past few years at Virginia Tech I have been fortunate to be a teaching assistant in a great diversity of classes. I started assisting in the general biology laboratory sessions, in which I presented a short introduction to a topic and then moved to practical component. Then I assisted in a physiology class which was lecture based. Thereafter, I assisted in an introductory class, in the Fish and Wildlife Department, composed of over 100 students; the instructor had a lecture system composed of a PowerPoint presentation and then we would break into groups where I facilitated student discussions within and between groups. Lately, I have been working with a group of undergraduate students that volunteer at Virginia Tech’s Black Bear Research Center (BBRC). I designed a series of workshops to educate students about different procedures and techniques that we use at the BBRC. In these workshops, I use different teaching techniques that allow me to show students the purpose of techniques and applicability and finally guide students while performing such techniques.
I have found that my teaching skills have changed over time since the first lab session I directed in biology. I am more approachable, I tend to listen to students more often and frequently consider their ideas to implement in class. I tend to frame the content in a “big picture” rather than focusing on details. I am now accepting of students making mistakes; I actually welcome those to introduce further explanations or spark curiosity in students. Even though I wanted to be a professor since I was an undergrad, I have found myself enjoining more and more my pedagogical activities because of my interactions with students. I feel more comfortable and energized while teaching. I want to walk around the room if I am in a classroom or I want challenge students performing an activity. My dry humor flourishes, very often under the radar on students.
My experiences, the professors I have taken class from, the classes I am taking for the graduate teaching certificate, and professors I have worked with in teaching have made me realize that the art of teaching is not a static process. I have come a long way, but there is a lot more to go to improve my teaching skills, because I believe that I need to learn much more and do my best to excel as a future professor. I have also learn that teaching techniques are context dependent, and I need to refine the appropriate timing for when they should be uses to adequately stimulate students during the learning process.