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Teacher Development

Students at a white board (Ben Binhong Lin, Stanford University)
Ben Binhong Lin, Stanford University

Training and resources for teaching and lab safety

TA and Safety Training

The department of chemistry hosts an in-house three day hands-on training for incoming graduate students that covers key points related to teaching and safety aimed at preparing students for becoming effective laboratory section teaching assistants. The training has been developed and revamped over the past seven years by a lecturer in the department. The key aspect of the training is the peer-delivery approach in which graduate students who have experience with teaching, laboratory safety, and the Stanford environment deliver much of the training. The lecturer works with each of the TA trainers in advance of the training to vet the content and outline effective approaches for delivery.

Why the peer-guided approach? Our experience has shown that using peers helps incoming students to gain greater insight into the types of challenges one may face while teaching. Furthermore, using graduate students has been effective at boosting confidence for incoming graduate students prior to entering the classroom. Finally, the peer trainers act as mentors for the graduate students throughout the academic year to provide support and guidance as needed during the first year of teaching.

The teaching components of the TA training are shown below.

TA training diagram

The safety training focuses upon the following aspects:

Safety training diagram


Lastly the mentor program is a year-long program that provides TA support throughout their first year of teaching. Each of the incoming TAs is assigned a graduate student mentor, who also facilitated the teaching and safety components of the TA training. The mentor program has the following components by quarter.

TA mentoring program diagram

Our research has indicated that the TA training aspects provides a basis for not only effective teaching and safety approaches, but also promotes a community that builds confidence and provides support throughout the first year.

Further Resources for Careers in Teaching