Learning through Teaching

It is already halfway through the semester! I have greatly enjoyed my experiences this semester as an undergraduate teaching assistant for organic chemistry. I have learned so much that can help me become a better instructor and facilitator in the future.

I have been an organic chemistry teaching assistant for the past six semesters. After applying for the Health Sciences Research Fellowship this past summer, I decided to apply for this fellowship. I had a great experience in the HSRF program, and the CUTF is proving to be just as fulfilling! Before I knew about the CUTF, I had already considered how I could improve the active learning environment of organic chemistry recitations. This fellowship allowed me to create and complete a project during this semester. I contacted the professor that I TA for during the fall semesters, and he loved the idea of working with me on this project. After meeting with my faculty mentor, Dr. George Bandik, we devised a definitive proposal to benefit all organic chemistry students.

If you are a student looking to become involved in teaching opportunities like this, do not be afraid to reach out to your professors! Professors love when their students show interest in the course material. Most of my professors have undergraduate teaching assistants for many of their courses.

In my experience, I had Dr. Bandik as my Organic Chemistry 2 professor. I enjoyed my experience in his class and reached out at the end of the semester to inquire if Dr. Bandik was looking for new teaching assistants for the next semester. After my first semester as a UTA for Dr. Bandik, I loved my teaching experience so much that I contacted another professor to continue as a teaching assistant in the spring semesters. In addition, I am currently the undergraduate teaching assistant for Functional Neuroanatomy Lab.

All the professors were very receptive when I reached out to find ways to become involved. However, being a teaching assistant is only one of the ways to become engaged in teaching opportunities as an undergraduate at Pitt. There are many organizations on campus where you can volunteer to tutor younger students. I am also a Math Outreach Fellow, teaching supplemental math lessons to middle schoolers on weekends.

If you are a student looking for teaching opportunities, I highly recommend reaching out to your professors or your teaching assistants to ask for their advice!

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