CUTF: Transition State from a Student to a Collaborator

Dr. George Bandik was my own CHEM0310 professor during the fall of 2020. However, contrary to my expectations of an online course, Dr. Bandik kept the content engaging, asking students to contribute to the course, which surprisingly was easier especially since I didn’t have to state my name the first time I was called on. As the only hybrid class of the semester and during a period where vaccines weren’t around, I used it as a controlled opportunity to leave my room while maintaining a relatively safe and clean environment.

A year after I took his course, I reached back out to Dr. Bandik, asking to become an Undergraduate Teaching Undergraduate (UTU). While initially worried for an awkward interaction by just showing up all of a sudden even though I hinted at my interest in doing so before the course ended, I knew I would regret it if I passed up the potential opportunity. As a result, for other students, I would advise them to not hesitate to reach out, especially near the end of the course if the professor is teaching again for the following semester.

Meanwhile, Dr. Bandik only taught CHEM0310 in the fall. So, I maintained my understanding of the content after being a UTU for a semester by asking Dr. Bandik whether there were any other opportunities. He connected me with Dr. Huston, who was resuming the course after a couple years. Teaching opportunities can be found if one looks for them, and professors know each other. In my personal experience, asking around for connections would never hurt!

While I knew I wanted to learn from Dr. Bandik about how to effectively augment a student’s teaching experience, determining my project was intimidating, especially with Dr. Bandik’s long career in teaching. I therefore turned to my peers, asking them what they thought could have helped them, taking their opinions before finalizing it into the project that I am creating today. Being able to transition into this project was easier for me personally due to my previous experiences as a UTU for both Dr. Bandik and Dr. Huston, where I co-led weekly mini-sessions for the students.

Due to my personal background, where I previously didn’t have experience helping students older than 10 years of age, my slower start is not something that I would give up on. Not only did it give me the opportunity to learn my own style of leading a study session, but it also gave me the opportunity to see more clearly how Dr. Bandik wanted the students to learn. As a result, if time is available, I highly recommend starting off as a UTU/UTA before delving into a personal project!

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