As the coordinator of the Graduate Teaching Workshop (detailed below), I serve as the unofficial mentor for all students with current teaching assignments (8 students in 20-21; 3 students in 21-22), and the official mentor for students teaching undergraduate research methods (3 in 20-21, 1 in 21-22).
I take an active role when mentoring graduate instructors but allow them as much autonomy and independence as possible. In a typical semester, I offer to guest lecture once in their classes and attend once if they request it (so I can prepare an evaluation for them to use for awards, annual reports, etc.).
The Graduate Teaching Workshop
In April 2020 I reached out to our eight gradaute students who were scheduled to teach in 2020-2021. I asked if they needed support to prepare their courses to teach online (since few had planned to teach online prior to the pandemic), and they were eager to get together to chat.
We met every two weeks over the summer to prepare their courses. When fall semester began, we started meeting every month to touch base and answer questions/issues that arose during class. The major benefit of this group was the ability of graduate students to answer each other’s questions and provide advice and guidance to one another. The community we created was vibrant and engaged.
We ended up covering the following topics:
- What does it mean to “decolonize” your syllabus? How do we ensure representative voices in our classes?
- Creating your classroom culture
- The basics of backward design
- Writing course competencies
- Designing meaningful assessments
- Lessons and learning outcomes
- Engaging students through class activities
- Course syllabus and roadmap
- Behind the scenes of D2L
- Mid-semester course evaluations
- EASE reports & MSU policies
- Online instruction & Zoom
- Apps & useful tech tools for learning
- Writing a teaching statement/teaching philosophy
These topics now form the basis for the new workshop, which the School of Criminal Justice is planning to hold each summer for any interested graduate students.
The Graduate Teaching Workshop started with 8 students in 2020-2021, and there are currently 12 students participating in 2021-2022. Three of these students are enrolled at other institutions who I invited as my mentees through the Division on Queer Criminology and the Division on Women & Crime. Several students attending are not currently scheduled to teach, but wanted to learn more and engage with their colleagues about teaching issues.
In my role as workshop coordinator, I offer to write each student a teaching-focused letter of recommendation if they need one during their job search. I also invite them into my classroom as they prepare to interact with students.
As someone who embraces critical pedagogy, I do not enter the workshop as the “holder of all knowledge” regarding teaching; rather, our workshop is collaborative and collegial. Students who have taught classes in the past are invited to attend and share their experiences, and students who have not yet taught are encouraged to share their experiences as students.