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Center for Teaching Excellence

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant

Tip for TAs: A Tale of Two Classrooms


In terms of classroom conduct, no two classes are ever the same. The material may be identical, but class dynamics change from one section to another, making it difficult to engage students using strategies that may have worked flawlessly just an hour prior. Learning how to build a relationship with students and adapt to these differences, is key in successfully reaching course goals. Discussion includes understanding class dynamics, working with, not against, technology in the classroom and balancing authority and approachability. 

About the Facilitator

Sara Ann Peters was awarded the USC 2012 Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award. She is currently finishing her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology, and is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Newberry College. Sara enjoys using a variety of methodology in the classroom in order to engage students of different learning backgrounds, and encourages her students to take a critical thinking approach to the literature reviewed.


"Sara had great points in her presentation that will help teaching assistants more effectively carry out their responsibilities. It was a very informational workshop for someone like myself, having relatively little teaching experience." – Biology

"This seminar will impact, and has already impacted, my role as a TA in the following ways. I recently implemented the technique of including extra work for a section that finishes too early. A week or two after the seminar, I took one discussion question out of my plan while teaching for my first section which was quite chatty. I didn't want to discourage their enthusiasm and exchange of ideas and the question I omitted wasn't as crucial as some of the others. In my second section, students were not nearly so talkative. I was wondering how I would fill the time with worthwhile material and then remembered the extra question I had saved. Students responded fairly well to the question. I have also been reminding myself not to take an apathetic stare or the sleepiness of my third section personally. I try to show extra enthusiasm and move around the room a little more in order to help them stay focused. I have also adapted my approach by rewording the discussion questions and giving more explanation of what I am looking for in student responses to any section that has proved to need it in the past. Peters' seminar has already been helpful to me in minimizing my problem of three classrooms, and I hope to implement more of her ideas in the future." – History

"Her perspective was really fresh and awesome! The ideas of how to utilize on-campus resources and her references were really helpful." – College of Education Teaching and Learning


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