The UMass College of Natural Sciences offers a First-year seminar to CNS-declared majors under the broad umbrella “Think like a Scientist”. Graduate students interested in a teaching career are encouraged to apply. Each FYS is unqiue to the person teaching it, which gave me the opportunity to build a (mini) cirriculum and practice some skills I learned abstractly by taking CIRTL online training courses.
My FYS class culminates in a series of classes where we interact with a free online molecular dynamics simulation ‘game’ to build a sense of what’s interesting to the students. Then in the last few weeks I will allow them freedom to build a mini project and present their discoveries to their friends. Perhaps some results will get posted on this site. –update, see how my 1st class ended
Some key take-aways from training:
- Empathy is a great 1st principle
- I do not need to be the unfailing authority on everything
- Young instructors often overprepare; don’t plan every moment of every class
- Dressing and speaking professionally, asking be to called “professor”, can help give authority