image of a teacher's apple My Teaching

General Experience

Being a teaching assistant and working with students has been the highlight of my graduate career, and it’s the thing I look forward to most about continuing in academia as a professor. I assisted in a class every semester during my first four years at Cornell. Responsibilities in these classes included grading, of course, but also guest lecturing, working with students to complete group projects, and at times leading my own sections. My assistantships have included:

Working With Students

My early fascination with documentary production and science writing grew out of a love of discovery and communicating new ideas to people. So, it’s no surprise that working with students has become one of my favorite things in the world. It’s always an amazing pleasure to see what they are capable of when you put the new tools—whether “conceptual” or “applied”—into their hands. As a teaching assistant, I’ve been lucky to be in a situation where I get to do a great deal of one-on-one interaction with students, and to appreciate the unique goals, challenges, strengths, and personality that everyone brings to a class.

Technology in the Classroom

In many classes I provided extensive technical support. For example, in one class I assembled a custom course Website as an alternative to Blackboard. For another, I wrote custom grade management software. For a third, I provided tech support for open source statistical software to students who chose not to install SPSS. I also maintain a section of my personal Website most semesters dedicated to providing additional resources to students.

For lecture courses, I’m also a fan of finding creative alternatives to PowerPoint. Without taking away from the efficiency or effectiveness of PowerPoint, it’s been my experience that students learn more and take better notes when they’re not racing to scribble down bullet points or foregoing note-taking altogether in favor of downloading the slides later. I make all the resources and points from my lectures available for download, but generally prefer to separate them from my presentation materials. At times, I’ve created stand-alone websites to serve as a lasting resource from a guest lecture, and when I do create lecture slides, I generate my own templates, which tend to be visual, rather than text-focused. I’ll post a clip soon of one of my lectures to better illustrate what I mean here.

Teaching Awards

I’ve been fortunate enough to be the recipient of a number of teaching awards. In 2008, I received the International Communication Association’s award for “Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Student.” During the 2009-2010 academic year, I received the “Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award,” from Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (which houses the Communication Department). And in 2010, I was the inaugural recipient of the Kenneth J. Bissett Memorial Teaching Assistant Fellowship, now awarded annually by my department.