MIT BE TA-Training-2011

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Welcome and Goals

Welcome to the 2011 Teaching Assistant (TA) training run by the Biological Engineering department at MIT!

Our goal these two days is to begin to prepare you for the challenges and rewards of teaching, and to introduce mentors and other resources for you to rely on this year. Whether you are currently excited or apprehensive (or anything in between) about TAing, we hope you will view it as an opportunity not just to make a difference in the lives of your students, but also to develop your own communication and management skills.

Putting time and effort into your TAship now will pay dividends later: managing UROPs in your lab, identifying and understanding different learning styles (your students', your peers', and your own), training and collaborating with peers, speaking and giving presentations at conferences, and dealing with industry colleagues' widely-varying backgrounds and expectations.

The BE department takes great pride in its commitment to both undergraduate and graduate teaching and learning. We also take your professional growth and development seriously - and we know you'll take your new role as educators and mentors equally seriously.


Day 1: Monday, August 29th

Monday, August 29th in Room 56-614

Time Event Speaker(s)
10:00-10:15 AM Coffee, pick up materials, mingle
10:15-11:10 Lecture: training goals and introduction to TA role Alan Jasanoff and Forest White
11:10-11:45 Team discussion: reflect on learning and teaching Small groups
11:45 AM-1:00 PM Meet/Q&A with TA mentors over lunch Small groups
1:00-1:10 PM What a TAship means in BE Doug Lauffenburger, department head
1:10-1:45 Microteaching demonstration and practice feedback Forest White (and interactive)
1:45-2:30 On effective teaching in diverse classrooms Agi Stachowiak (and interactive)

Day 2: Tuesday, August 30th

Tuesday, August 30th in Room 56-614

You will be put into groups of no more than 6 people for a practice teaching session ("microteaching"). Please sign up for a problem below by putting your name under the appropriate column. (Sample sign-ups are shown below as prb x, grp y.) Within a group, each person should do a different problem. The problem statements can be found in the "handout" section below. Please email Agi for assistance if you have trouble signing up. Microteaching is required for students teaching lecture subjects. If you are a lab subject TA and want a chance to practice, please see us - we may have a few additional slots available.

Before your session on Tuesday, please read the following two links on effective observation and feedback during microteaching:

Problem # Problem topic Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
1 Free energy and ATP hydrolysis prb1, grp 1 prb1, grp 4
2 Proton availability in a cell prb2, grp 1 prb2, grp3
3 Protein-ligand binding parameters
4 Biologically relevant redox
5 Conformational entropy prb5, grp1
6 Metabolic network adaptation

Groups for Team-Building and Microteaching Sessions

Group 1:


Day 2 Schedule

About a 1-1.5 hour session per group, depending on size... starting at 10 AM.

Session Time Faculty Leader Group

Handouts and Links to Resources


Final versions will go here and hardcopies will be available at the session.

Introductory lecture (PDF)
Team-building exercise (PDF)
Microteaching introduction (PDF)
Microteaching problems (PDF)
Diversity session materials (PDF)


Teaching Resources

Helping Students

Please do not hesitate to talk to the faculty member(s) teaching your subject if you encounter an extraordinary situation – you are not expected to shoulder the brunt of student difficulties. For your reference, some resources for students (that includes most of you, in fact!) are below.

  • Student Support Services
    • Room 5-104; 253.4861
    • Students who are experiencing academic or personal difficulty can be referred to the S3 office.
  • Resource List 1, from S^3
  • Resource List 2, from DSL
  • BE Tutoring Service
    • Juniors and seniors in BE are available to tutor for many UG core classes.
    • Tutoring hours are typically set for each subject toward the beginning of the semester.
    • Tutoring occurs in the student lounge (56-046).
  • Office of Minority Education
    • Room 4-113; 253.5010
    • OME offers a tutoring service open to all students by appointment.
  • Student Disabilities Services
    • Room 7-145; 253.1674
    • Note that faculty should be the primary contact for working with the SDS; this link is provided in case you need additional support or information.
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