Duties of Graduate Students with Teaching
Assistantships
 All entering graduate
students are required
to attend a oneweek teacher training program which begins the Monday
of the week before fall classes begin.
This
program is designed to prepare graduate students to lead calculus labs
and
to begin the training for teaching a laboratory calculus course. To see
a detailed schedule for the most
recent
(or next) training week, please contact the Supervisor of First Year
Instruction (SFI).
 All firstyear graduate
students will
participate in a yearlong teacher training program which is run by Emily Braley and Sarah
Schott of the Math Department. In this program, graduate students
will attend seminars, observe current graduate student teachers, as
well as practice
teaching, grading, and exam writing. In addition, graduate students
will receive guidance on how best to interact with undergraduates both
in the classroom and in office hours. Once a graduate
student begins teaching (typically in the second year), a faculty
member will visit the class and provide feedback to the new teacher.
 Firstyear graduate
students are typically assigned the job of leading or assisting with a
calculus lab. Each
lab
meets once a week for 105 minutes (for Math 105L, 106L, 111L, and 112L)
or 75 minutes (for Math 122L). In these labs we
use a locally written lab manual and we ask students to use the TI83
calculator
(for Math 105L, 106L, 111L, and 112L) or Maple (for Math 122L). Lab
assistants will attend weekly lab preparation meetings, grade lab
materials, staff the departmental help room for 2 hours each week,
and help with the grading of
the departmental final exams at the end of the semester.
 Once a graduate student
has been
assigned to teach a class, then he or she will have the same duties
that
all teachers in our courses assume. In addition to the usual lesson
writing,
lecturing, and grading, these duties also entail participation (for 2
hours
a week) in a Departmental help room. All teachers help to grade the
departmental exams at the end of the semester.
Training for Teaching Assistants at Duke
Learning to teach is essential in the education
of our
mathematics graduate students and being a teaching assistant is a
critical part of
both their professional development and financial support. Mathematics
graduate
students typically begin their teaching responsibilities during their
first year of
graduate study when they serve as lab assistants and work in the help
room.
Beginning in their second year, they teach their own calculus class, of
roughly 2035
students, which meets 3 hours a week, with a weekly
laboratory session
supervised by two teaching assistants. The teacher training program for
graduate
students has been ongoing since fall, 1987. The program is currently
coordinated
by Emily Braley
and Sarah Schott,
both of whom are assistant professors of the practice in the
mathematics department, in
consultation with the Director
of
Graduate Studies and the Supervisor of
Firstyear Instruction.
During the week before classes begin in the fall, the
graduate students
who will be serving as lab assistants participate in a weeklong workshop
led by Clark Bray,
Supervisor of Firstyear Instruction. In this workshop the participants
are
introduced to Duke's laboratory calculus courses. This workshop is
designed to enable
graduate students to begin their work as lab assistants.
During their first year of graduate study, all graduate
students
participate in a weekly teaching seminar led by Emily Braley
and Sarah Schott.
There are two related purposes of the seminar: (1) to
prepare graduate students to teach introductory calculus courses
here at Duke
and (2) to introduce graduate students to educational
issues
that they will need to be knowledgeable of if they are to become
effective
college mathematics faculty. The activities of the seminar include:
 A discussion of what constitutes good teaching and
how undergraduates
learn mathematics.
 Observations of lessons taught by current graduate
student teachers.
 Discussion of the abovementioned observations.
 How to organize lessons: planning, time management,
homework .
 Overview of content of our Calculus courses with
emphasis on what
students find difficult.
 How to create inclass exams.
 Grading exams, and the importance of consistency.
 Current issues in undergraduate mathematics
education.
 A panel of current graduate student teachers.
 A discussion of office hours, how to start the
semester, rules and
regulations,
services available to freshmen.
 Presentation of a 15minute practice lesson.
 Two lectures given to real calculus classes during
the spring semester of their first year of graduate school. These
presentations are
observed by a member of the teaching faculty and/or the graduate
student's faculty mentor. Afterwards, the observer meets with the
graduate student to discuss what worked and what needs improvement.
Most of our graduate students begin teaching their own
class during the fall of their second year.
During
the semester that a graduate student begins teaching his or her own
classes,
they are observed twice by a faculty member. These observations are
followed up with a discussion. If
the quality of teaching is satisfactory, no more observations are made,
but if
problems are perceived, another observation will be made to see if the
suggestions
are being implemented. At the end of that first semester of teaching
and after
the graduate student reads his or her TeacherCourse
Evaluations,
the graduate student will write a selfevaluation describing his or her
perceived strengths and weaknesses and discussing ways to improve. The
TeacherCourse Evaluations and the selfevaluations serve as the basis
for a discussion
between the new teacher and the coordinator of teacher training. If
there are no
major problems, this point marks the end of his or her training. If
problems
are
evident, a plan is designed to help that individual graduate student
improve his
or her teaching.
Teaching links
