This was a two part session. Part 2: "What was it like to TA in a TEAL room?" was led by two TAs for ESC103 - Engineering Mathematics and Computations, Saima Ali and Valentin Peretroukhin. For part 1, please visit Part 1: "What is it like to teach in a TEAL room?" This session took place on November 29, 2017 in the SF 3201.
One of the items of feedback that we heard in our last session was that everyone was looking for some practical examples of teaching in an active learning classroom. Loosely, the questions that we wanted to discuss were:
- How does teaching in an active classroom change the workload, both for instructors preparing as well as for students taking the class?
- Which activities worked and which did not?
- Is there a resource for inspiration for different types for active learning activities? (aka where did you get your ideas?)
To this end, we invited Saima (MASc Candidate, IBBME) and Valentin (Ph.D. Candidate, Space and Terrestrial Autonomous Robotic Systems (STARS) Lab) to share their experiences leading tutorial sessions in our prototype TEAL room.
TEAL Session (Part 2): Instructor and TA Experiences teaching in a TEAL Room
Saima and Valentin (presentation is below) noted several things about the tutorials they led in the prototype TEAL room during the fall of 2017. One major element was that there was actually two tutorials in the room at one time, each led by a different teaching assistant. In addition to managing activities in the classroom, managing noise was also something they were managing. As the term went on, the general organization of the room was to have each tutorial along the outside tables, with the centre column of tables emtpy. This allowed for some separation of space and allowed each TA to facilitate their own section. Valentin did note, however, how different voices carried in the room, and sometimes one TA would garner the attention of both sections.
Saima noted how the furniture changed the dynamic of the tutorials, as the higher tables and chairs allowed the TA to more easily integrate into each group and served to put everyone on the same level. She also mentioned that when working with a group, she would sit at the table, enter the discussion, and then, if needed, incoporate the display screen (using dry erase markers) into the discussion.
Valentin incorporated a few ice breaker activities into his tutorials. This included a book club and a "in the news" activity. The students recieved both of these well, bringing their own news examples as the semester went on.
In comparison to a traditional tutorial room, both saw benefits to the new space, with provisos. First, the room(s) need to be equipped with the proper connections and things as simple as dry erase markers. Second, time needs to be invested in training to support the TAs in the rooms.