Future Faculty Explore Education Beyond the Bench-Department of Biological Sciences - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Future Faculty Explore Education Beyond the Bench

The Sciences Teaching Club Officer Board. Left to right: Amanda Soohoo, Andrew Kehr, Ming Zhang and Shanna Bowersox.
The Sciences Teaching Club Officer Board. Left to right: Amanda Soohoo, Andrew Kehr, Ming Zhang and Shanna Bowersox.

I am a terrible teacher. I talk too fast. I have no sense of timing for a lecture, and I cannot figure out how to contort my body in order to look at my students while writing on the board. I’m not a good teacher – not yet. The Sciences Teaching Club is helping me get there.

I didn’t start graduate school knowing that I wanted to teach. The option was always there, the same way learning how to water-ski is always there, but I never really knew where to start. After all, teaching doesn’t look too difficult; just stand up and talk. What most 20-something graduate students don’t realize is that teaching is not natural. Effectively breaking down and communicating complex ideas to a room full of students is about as unnatural as getting a person to stand on water. Through my involvement with The Sciences Teaching Club, I am learning to stay afloat while teaching in graduate school instead of years down the road after I’ve fought pipette-tip and conical tube for a faculty position.

In the upcoming years, The Sciences Teaching Club plans to expand its reach beyond its current graduate student members from various science disciplines. The club particularly wants to become a resource about graduate education for undergraduates and complete outreach activities with non-science majors. In Fall 2013, the club plans to host a career panel on non-traditional academic careers and run a teaching portfolio workshop to prepare students for their job search. In a few weeks, Professor Dan Gurnon from DePauw University will be visiting with club members to speak about lecture design and his road to professorship. Dr. Gurnon’s fluid and passionate nature instantly made him a teaching role model to club secretary Andrew Kehr.

If you have any questions regarding The Sciences Teaching Club, please contact Amanda Soohoo or Ming Zhang.

Photo: Courtesy of The Sciences Teaching Club

By: Amanda Soohoo, Ph.D. Candidate