By Jennifer Hoyt
A group of William & Mary graduate students led a weekly conversation on teaching and learning, sharing their significant contributions to an ongoing student-driven pilot project as part of a spring series at Swem Library. Recognizing how teaching assistants and teaching fellows prepare to fill the roles of faculty members within higher education, the small cohort of graduate students from Arts & Sciences presented a plan to offer training and mentorship, while they themselves continue to explore their own professional futures.
William & Mary’s University Teaching Project serves as a model for the new Graduate Teaching Project (GTP) where students have designed an online hub with guidelines ranging from first-day concerns to handling classroom experiences that simply went wrong. Those attending the February 20 meeting, titled Resources to Support Graduate Students with Teaching Responsibilities: Unveiling and Panel Discussion, showed their appreciation and collectively responded with one unanimous inquiry: How quickly can the online resource go live?
Although a specific date remains to be set, one graduate student from the cohort wishes the online hub was available yesterday. “I am really excited to see an opportunity to create a resource that can help other graduate students have resources that I may not have had access to when I first started teaching,” shared PhD candidate Kasey Sease. “I was kind of surprised that there were not as many resources available for graduate teachers from the beginning and when I first got to William & Mary.”
After presenting their vision of the online resource for guiding teaching assistants and fellows, the graduate students left the spring series workshop with voiced approval and feedback from William & Mary educators and learning partners on how to continually build on the pilot project. “I think it has been so exciting to be able to show this to members of the faculty and staff who could hopefully pass it on to their students,” said PhD candidate Holly Gruntner. “We’ve got a lot of great ideas.”
As for Sarah Glosson, Arts & Sciences Graduate Center director, she anticipates the dedication to this semester’s pilot project will create an academic platform for new teachers, and she credits William & Mary Libraries for its support in launching the GTP. “We’ve had substantive guidance from Libraries staff during the January bootcamp while the students worked on the resource hub,” Glosson recalls. She also points to ongoing training necessary for the students to realize the project, noting, “They’re also, as part of the GTP, each attending various pedagogical workshops on campus and working on an individual project like a syllabus or teaching statement.”
In the meantime, the cohort will continue collaborating on the Graduate Teaching Resource hub in hopes of making the information available to William & Mary’s future teaching community. Additionally, the graduate students work to establish the hub’s longevity before they wrap up the spring semester. Cohort member Nicole Gustafson shares, “We need some people with a little more institutional memory and who can stay a little longer to have an awareness and a support for it, so it doesn’t end when we leave the school.”