As of yesterday, Josh officially finished for the 2012-2013 academic year. My students had finals the week before. So we're officially on "summer break," not that that means a damned thing when you're in grad school. I will still be teaching this summer as well as finishing my data analysis, writing my thesis, and defending, so I'll be busier than ever. But at least Josh gets a bit of a break.
I got my students' evaluations back today from this past semester. These things never fail to make me feel better about myself. My average score was 4.9/5, and I had some of the sweetest comments:
"Kimberly was probably the best TA I've had in my years at UC. In addition to being dedicated and actually excited about the material, she was able to explain the material in a way that made the material accessible and emphasized the practicality of it. I've had many TA's that are either highly interested in the material or good at teaching something, but none as well as Kimberly. Her grading was fair and she was very helpful both inside class and through email with understanding the material and what was required. I know some TA's can be nominated for awards in certain departments and if biology is one of them, then I nominate Kimberly. She was truly a superb instructor."
"This TA was by far one of the most helpful and caring TA's I have ever had. She had a very good understanding of the course expectations and was very approachable. She did every think in her power to make sure the students understood the objectives of each experiment as well as the material being taught. Definitely the best TA I've had."
My personal favorite? "Lab sucks, but great TA :)". I agree, anonymous student. This year's transition to semesters has not been what I would call pleasant, and a lot of the lab material felt like "filler." There's nothing I hate worse than being forced to drag students in to do something they won't benefit from. It's a waste of their time and mine. As it was, the doubled student loads meant that I was working an extra 15 hours a week for no extra pay. So yeah, the lab session and associated activities did sort of suck. But at least this kid liked me as an instructor.
This is why I go out of my way to participate in graduate clubs and seminars that will improve my teaching abilities. I may not go into teaching as a profession, but right now, 50+ undergrads count on me each semester to give them a foundation in biology, and I feel compelled to do right by them. It is also the reason I've been getting by on about 3 hours of sleep, and haven't been posting very much. But from the sound of it, it's been worth it.