MIT BE TA-Training-2013

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Welcome and Goals

Welcome to the 2013 Teaching Assistant (TA) training run by the Biological Engineering department at MIT!

Our goal these two days is to begin to prepare you for the challenges and rewards of teaching, and to introduce mentors and other resources for you to rely on this year. Whether you are currently excited or apprehensive (or anything in between) about TAing, we hope you will view it as an opportunity not just to make a difference in the lives of your students, but also to develop your own communication and management skills.

Putting time and effort into your TAship now will pay dividends later: managing UROPs in your lab, identifying and understanding different learning styles (your students', your peers', and your own), training and collaborating with peers, speaking and giving presentations at conferences, and dealing with industry colleagues' widely-varying backgrounds and expectations.

The BE department takes great pride in its commitment to both undergraduate and graduate teaching and learning. We also take your professional growth and development seriously - and we know you'll take your new role as educators and mentors equally seriously.


Day 1: Wednesday, August 28th in room 56-614

Time Event Speaker(s)
9:30-9:45 AM Coffee/light breakfast, pick up materials, mingle
9:45-9:55 AM What a TAship means in BE Doug Lauffenburger, department head
10:00-10:50 Lecture: training goals and introduction to TA role Bevin Engelward and Agi Stachowiak
10:50-11:50 Team discussion: reflect on learning and teaching; chalkboard exercise Small groups
11:55 AM-12:55 PM Meet/Q&A with TA mentors over lunch Small groups
1:00-1:40 Microteaching demonstration and practice feedback Bevin Engelward (and interactive)
1:45-2:45 On effective teaching in diverse classrooms Agi Stachowiak (and interactive)
2:45-3:00 buffer time, wrap-up discussion, and confirm Day 2 plans

Day 2: Thursday, August 29th in room 56-614

You will be put into groups of 3-5 people for a practice teaching session ("microteaching"). Please sign up for a problem below by putting your name under the appropriate column. (Sample sign-ups are shown below as prb x, grp y.) Within a group, each person should do a different problem. The problem statements can be found in the "handout" section below. Please email Agi for assistance if you have trouble signing up. Microteaching is required for students teaching lecture subjects. If you are a lab subject TA and want a chance to practice, please see us - we may have a few additional slots available.

Before your session on Thursday, please read the following two links on effective observation and feedback during microteaching:

Problem # Problem topic Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Group 5
1 Free energy and ATP hydrolysis LN
2 Proton availability in a cell GL
3 Protein-ligand binding parameters SG KM
4 Biologically relevant redox
5 Conformational entropy NA WC
6 Metabolic network adaptation SC
7 Protein mutant structure & thermodynamics GP
8 Interplay between reaction, convection, and diffusion RR
9 Three short answer, independent questions about fluid dynamics
10 Superposition approach for complex potentials
11 Short answer biomechanics questions, 1
12 Short answer biomechanics questions, 2

Groups for Team-Building and Microteaching Sessions

Group Classes Mentor(s) Participants
1 20.110, 20.111 Abby H (110) and Chen G (111) Devin Q, Simon G, Raven R, Nazar A
2 20.330, 20.310 Paul L (310) and Robert K (330) Frances L, Tu N, Edgar A, Anya B
3 20.320 Jen W (320) Ryan K, Bo Z, Mariana S
4 20.380 and electives (G and UG) Jenn B (380) and Christi C (363/463) Georgia L, Santi C, Tony K, Jeremy G, Kelly M
5 G core classes Souparno G (420), Fei C (430), and Daniel R (440) Zach B, Wesley C, Navpreet R, Gabriele P
6 20.109 Jenny K and Ian T Lizzie N, Griffen C, Su V, Reginald A, Chris B

Day 2 Schedule

Session Time Faculty Leader Group
10-11am Agi S 1
11am-12pm Bevin E 5
1-2pm Agi S 2
2-3pm Shannon H 4
3-4pm Shannon H 3+109

Handouts and Links to Resources


Final versions will go here and hardcopies will be available at the session.

TA-Prof Meeting Framework
Microteaching introduction (PDF) ; Microteaching introduction (DOCX)
Microteaching problems (PDF)
Feedback form (DOC); Feedback form (PDF)

Lecture slides/notes

Introductory lecture Part I, Agi S (PDF)
Introductory lecture Part II, Bevin E (PDF)
Introductory lecture Part II, fuller/textier handbook version, Bevin E (PDF)
Microteaching demonstration, Bevin E (PDF)
Diversity session slides, Agi S (PDF)
Diversity session slides w/supplementary notes, Agi S (PDF)


Teaching Resources and Tools

Helping Students

Please do not hesitate to talk to the faculty member(s) teaching your subject if you encounter a student having unusual difficulties that you are not in a position to address. For your reference, some resources for students are listed below.

Taking Care of Yourself

Many of the student-centered resources above apply not just to your charges, but to you! A few particularly relevant ones are listed below.