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Introduction and Goals
Teaching is important and exhilarating – and hard in many different ways. In Biology, we all share the goal of becoming ever-better teachers, and we recognize the importance of supporting our GTAs as they begin their teaching careers.
There are a lot of parts to being a fantastic teacher, and we have tried to tease them apart here.
Not all of these will be relevant for all GTA assignments. Our goal is to lay out the overall landscape of successful teaching in order to help instructors and GTAs view each evaluation/feedback opportunity (including self-evaluation and peer evaluation) within a broader holistic context.
We hope that GTAs and instructors/lab coordinators will sit down together at the beginning of each semester, using this document as a guide, and have a conversation about the kinds of evaluation and feedback that would best support the GTA, given the constraints and opportunities of the course. We hope that this document – modified as each of us sees fit – will create synergy among our individual evaluation efforts, as well as spark some new ideas for ways to support GTA growth. We look forward to hearing from all of you what works (and what still needs work)!
Pedagogy (i.e. the method and practice of teaching) – Instruction
Delivery (includes voice tempo and loudness, body language, speaking to the class rather than the screen/wall, use of visuals including terminology)
Talking with students and talking among students (i.e. Discourse) (includes asking students questions at the appropriate Bloom’s taxonomy level, encouraging and answering students’ questions, circulating around the room to check in on students during lab exercises, creating opportunities for students to talk with one another)
Time usage and class pacing (includes balancing time allocation for introduction of materials, responding to student questions, and execution of lab)
Classroom management (includes keeping students focused on task, keeping everyone involved)
Encouraging a student growth mindset and an inclusive and welcoming classroom (includes patience, respect, positive reinforcement that effort leads to learning, appreciation for diverse experiences by students prior to entering college)
Facilitation of active and inquiry-based learning (includes activities that place the student at the center of the learning experience, asking them to participate and work within the framework of a driving question)
Pedagogy – Assessment
Creation of formative and summative assessments that align with the learning goals (formative = low-stakes to monitor student learning and identify where students are struggling. summative = high-stakes to evaluate student learning – i.e. to give them a grade, typically).
Grading of assessments in a constructive, transparent, fair way (includes providing rubrics to students along with assignments so they can monitor their own learning and performance, engaging in regular analysis of grading to ensure that instructors/GTAs are not exhibiting any unintended implicit biases of students)
Pedagogy – Curriculum
Identifying learning goals
Creating a learning plan to meet the goals
Aligning assessment tools to measure if learning goals were met
Understanding of the material being taught
Timeliness (includes arriving for class, weekly meetings, and exam proctoring, as well as grading and entering grades)
Classroom care and maintenance (includes leaving classroom ready for the next class and using/restocking/communicating about lab materials)
Collegiality (includes sharing ideas with other GTAs during weekly meetings, being prepared for meetings in order maximize productivity, helping out in a pinch)
Student support (includes knowing how to identify and offer CSU’s support network – Student Case Management – to students who are struggling, as well as knowing the expectations for student conduct and drawing on CSU’s Student Resolution Center to maintain respectful student behavior in the classroom as needed)