What can the Undergrads teach you?

Instagram @gradlifemcgill Photo by @kipunsam.daily

Being a teacher’s assistant (TA) can be hard work. As a TA you’re a font of knowledge, the solution to their problems and the keeper of their GPA. You’re also figuring out things as you go, putting out fires as they happen (hopefully figuratively!) and generally trying to keep up the aura of authority. So whether you are lecturing in a seminar, running tutorials or supervising a lab, like me, it’s as much as learning experience as a teaching experience.

So what have my students taught me? Well, I think you learn different things depending on what kind of teaching you are doing. Fannie described her experience leading seminars and I can only speak to my experience as a TA for a lab course, but here are a few lessons I’ve learned. (more…)

Why Montreal is Magnificent for Master’s Students

Photo by Aleks Budarick.

It’s official: Montreal was recently ranked as the best student city in the world.

I’m not surprised. While I’ve only been a post-secondary student in two other cities (one in Ontario and one in Australia), both of which I liked very much, Montreal is the perfect city for my life as a master’s student. Why, you may ask? Well, let me explain some of my reasons.

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Teaching: it’s not a paycheck, it’s a responsibility

Me (left), sorting through aquatic arthropod specimens with some ecology students at Lac-Saint-Louis

I’ve been extremely fortunate to be a teaching assistant throughout my graduate career, both as a Master’s student and here at McGill where I have been leading introductory zoology (Organisms II) and ecology (St Lawrence Ecosystems) labs.

Teaching – working with, supporting, and learning from students – is something I love to do.It’s a big part of the reason I decided to quit my old desk job and pursue an academic career. I get a real kick out of seeing students get excited about course content, watching them have “aha!” moments when a new concept finally clicks, or hearing them say, “thanks for your help”. (more…)

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