Author: Trina Johnson (President, Northern BC Graduate Student Society)
Dear fellow graduate students,
The Northern British Columbia Graduate Student Society (NBCGSS), welcomes you to UNBC. We hope that you will find the CTLT to be a great asset as you begin your first of many teaching experiences! As someone who has worked with the CTLT to improve my own teaching style, I have found the staff so helpful and engaging. I value the experiences I have gained while pursuing a graduate degree and the expertise of the CTLT team. From personal experience, I know that teaching is one of the best ways to ensure the best possible learning while pursuing a degree. While more work is involved when one is teaching, the daily activities included in being a Teaching Assistant help motivate better organization and discipline in my own study.
Working through the certification while teaching provides me with support and assistance from knowledgeable and dedicated, teaching experts. The various workshops they host allow one to foster better teaching habits for all types of learners. Teaching to the various styles ensures that no student is left out of the learning curve in a class and I encourage every graduate Teaching Assistant to take part in as many workshops and courses as possible.
UNBC is a tight but welcoming community of passionate intellectuals. The CTLT coordinates learning opportunities with excellent mentors throughout the university and academic community. So not only does one receive excellent guidance when starting their teaching career, but they can also hone their teaching skills throughout the semester and put these new skills directly into practice during classes.
Often, opportunities will arise throughout your degree; take advantage of all the opportunities you can by being available to oversee exams when professors are unable to attend because of scheduling conflicts. Know the class material in case an emergency comes up and someone is needed to lead the class. All these experiences add up, fill your resume/CV, and lead to great networks over the course of your degree. Be prepared as a TA to have your students request letters of reference or ask for professional advice on the areas where you and they share interests. As a TA, you will meet awesome students who are just as passionate about learning and researching as you are about teaching and working through your Masters Degree. Each student is a unique being on the path to becoming who they want to be; remember to focus on this and ensure they all get the fair treatment and support they deserve. This is your opportunity to be innovative and expand your teaching ability. Being a TA will help expand your network and support system. You are so much more than simply an assistant for the professors with whom you work; you are a vital part of the development of others and a part of their support system.
This network and support can get you through the more solitary time of writing your thesis toward the end of your degree. Thesis writing has come to be considered one of the most isolating parts of scholarship. Having this support may be the very thing that gets you through that last time period and help you arrive at your destination in a timely manner.
Dr. Heather Smith and her fantastic team at the CTLT are here to support our faculty as they deliver the best educational experience we can gain from UNBC. The CTLT is here to help us as we develop as educators; their support, as you will find, is a vital key to your success. The training opportunities will help you gain the teaching credentials that will put you ahead in your future as an educator. Some of these tangible benefits will be seen whether they help you navigate the online components of a course, or a workshop on impromptu skills (Yes, I attended an awesome workshop featuring impromptu and I see the benefits daily as I field questions from my students in the classroom).
The CTLT is here to get you through all the tough places as you navigate being a TA (perhaps you are having trouble with your professor, or struggling with teaching tough students). I have always found Dr. Heather Smith and each CTLT team member to be friendly, supportive, and understanding. This team nurtures the developing educators here at UNBC. They remind me that we have all been in difficult circumstances, and we are not alone on this journey. The CTLT encourages us all to work harder at being great educators and awesome human beings. This team is one of the reasons UNBC is such a great campus.
MA Student, English Literature