MIT BE TA-Training-2014

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Welcome and Goals

Welcome to the 2014 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: Tuesday, August 26th in room 56-614

Time Event Speaker(s)
9:00-9:15 AM Coffee/light breakfast, pick up materials, mingle
9:15-9:30 AM What a TAship means in BE Doug Lauffenburger, department head
9:30-10:30 Lecture: training goals and introduction to TA role Shannon Hughes and Leona Samson
10:30-10:40 Recitation tips part I Agi Stachowiak
10:40-10:50 Intro to BE Communication Lab Jaime Goldstein
10:50-11:00 Stretch/bathroom/coffee break
11:00-12:00 Team discussion: reflect on learning and teaching; chalkboard exercise Small groups
12:00-1:00 Meet/Q&A with TA mentors over lunch Small groups
1:00-1:45 Recitation tips part II, microteaching demonstration and practice feedback Rotem Gura, G (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: Wednesday, August 27th in room 56-614

In groups of 3-5 people, you will participate in a practice teaching session ("microteaching"). 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.

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.) Email an instructor for assistance if you have trouble signing up.

Within a group, each person should do a different problem. The problem statements can be found in the "handout" section below. This year we have also included the problem solutions (in a separate handout), so that you may focus your efforts on determining the best approach to teaching the material rather than double-checking the correctness of your answers.

Before your session on Wednesday, 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 prb 1, grp 2
2 Protein-ligand binding parameters DR BQ SK JS
3 Conformational entropy KV
4 Metabolic network adaptation


5 Proton availability in a cell LC AMR
6 Protein mutant structure & thermodynamics AC
7 Interplay between reaction, convection, and diffusion IG
8 Three short answer, independent questions about fluid dynamics KS
9 Short answer biomechanics questions, 1
10 Short answer biomechanics questions, 2 BS

Groups for Team-Building and Microteaching Sessions

Group Classes Mentor(s) Participants
1 20.110, 20.111 Raven R (110), Simon G (111) Asmamaw W, Deena R, Karinna V, Hao X, Alexander H (part of time)
2 20.330, 20.310, and 20.320 Rotem G (330), Tu Nguyen (310), and Ryan K (320) Jaideep D (D2 only), Lynna C, Bo Q, Andrew C
3 20.380 and electives (G and UG) Georgia L and Tony K Naveen M, Breanna S, Jennifer H (part of time), Nick D, Sean K, (maybe Jacob B)
4 G core classes Wes C and Nav R (430), Gabriela P (440), and David F in absentia (420) Ishan G, Kevin S, Jacob S, Adrienne R
5 20.109 Kim D (Fall), Chris B (Spring) Isaak M, Yongjin P, Tahoura S, Djenet B, Nova P

Day 2 Schedule

Sessions to be led by Shannon H, Agi S, and Forest W.

Session Time Faculty Leader Group
10-11am Forest W 1
11am-12pm Agi S 4
1-2pm Agi S 2
3-4pm Shannon H 3

Handouts and Links to Resources

Handouts for Lectures and Activities

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

Event Associated Handout(s)
What a TAship means in BE N/A
Lecture: training goals and introduction to TA role Introductory Talk Part I, Shannon H
Introductory Talk Part II, Leona S
Introductory Talk Part II, fuller/textier handbook version, Bevin E (PDF)
Recitation tips part I Recitation Tips Talk, Agi S
Intro to BE Communication Lab Communication Lab Talk, Jaime G
Team discussion: reflect on learning and teaching; chalkboard exercise Team Activities
Meet/Q&A with TA mentors over lunch TA-Prof Meeting Framework
Recitation tips part II, microteaching demonstration and practice feedback (all chalkboard and discussion, Rotem G)
On effective teaching in diverse classrooms Diversity Talk, Agi S
Diversity Talk with Supplementary Notes
Day 2 microteaching Microteaching Background
Microteaching Problems
Microteaching Solutions
Starter Feedback Form (DOCX)
End of training Feedback form (DOC)
Feedback form (PDF)

Links to Resources

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.