Though my PhD work focused on research, I held a teaching position nearly every semester for the past six years. I enjoy and appreciate educational work very much. Teaching is the primary way in which we can, as scientists, connect with younger students and inform and inspire them by being enthusiastic, inclusive and presenting our work in exciting and accessible ways. Trying to be a better teacher helped me grow as a physicists and greatly informed my diversity and inclusion advocacy work.
Read about my thoughts on virtual and distance learning in the age of the coronavirus here.
As a Teaching Assistant (TA) I taught courses serving undergraduate students preparing for pre-medical careers, engineering and advanced undergraduates majoring in physics. I was repeatedly ranked as an Excellent Teacher according to the Center for Innovation in Teaching Learning at UIUC. In the Spring of 2019 I was a Mentor TA for a quantum and statistical physics course serving over 200 students. Here, I guided and evaluated a team of nine less experienced TAs, most of whom were subsequently ranked as Excellent as well. These experiences advanced my science communication skills and improved my leadership prowess in an academic setting. I learned to explain complex physics concepts to students with varying levels of prior knowledge and became good at thinking on my feet when confronted with a new way to solve a problem or a challenging conceptual question. As a Mentor TA I also learned how to assess my peers’ performance, deliver and receive constructive criticism and work on building teaching skills as a team.
In the Spring of 2018 I completed a course on college teaching within the UIUC College of Education which instructed me on best practices for creating learner centered syllabi, formulating a teaching philosophy and designing lesson plans. I put this knowledge to use in co-developing the interdisciplinary course Where Art Meets Physics with Prof. S. Vishveshwara.