The Hilary Ballon Center for Teaching and Learning (HBCTL) supports graduate students (Master’s and PhD candidates) and Post-doctoral Associates (postdocs) at all stages of their teaching trajectory, from getting started at NYUAD as a teaching assistant, to designing courses, and preparing a teaching statement for the academic job market. Teaching Assistant (TA) duties can vary broadly but can include: leading discussion groups and problem solving sessions, consulting with students in office hours, teaching labs, or giving lectures. The HBCTL websites offers resources for planning and improving in all of these areas. For questions on how you can become a Teaching Assistant please contact the Graduate and Post-Doctoral Programs Office (GPPO) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TAs offer educational assistance by scaffolding learning support for NYUAD students. Understanding the unique context of NYU Abu Dhabi students is integral to effective teaching in this interdisciplinary curriculum. To help prepare TAs to offer classroom engagements that are meaningful and useful to students, a workshop series has been developed.
This workshop series is required for all new NYUAD graduate and postdoc TAs, and is designed to introduce TAs to effective teaching strategies and a variety of resources that support TAs and students at NYUAD. Participants will be provided with resources to further their pedagogical training and to refine their teaching skills.
A key function of a TA is to structure learning environments that support undergraduate education at NYU Abu Dhabi. This section addresses how to produce lesson plans that facilitate student learning. Preparing a lesson plan will help build your confidence, and offer structure to students from diverse backgrounds with differing academic expectations. Lesson planning can help you prepare for teaching, keep your delivery organized, and ensure that your students meet their learning goals.
While lesson plans vary across disciplines and classes, they should all include information about what the objectives are for the session, what teaching strategies you will use, the order in which you will cover the topics, and how you will assess whether the students have learned what you wanted them to learn. Regardless of whether or not your lessons might be lab exercises, discussions or problem solving exercises, below are some steps that you can take to help you plan.
You will have been provided with a syllabus that already lists the class learning outcomes (CLOs). By referring to those, you can guide your individual lessons. Identify what the students should have covered in the week of teaching, and according to that, try to extract the main idea from those lessons, which you will focus on relaying.
Start with the phrase: “By the end of this lesson, the students will_____” and fill in the blank with the desired outcome expressed as an action verb. You can also work with the faculty member of record for the course if there are key skills or competencies they want you to emphasize in a recitation, art space, or lab.
Example: By the end of this lesson, students will know how to:
A singular lesson likely has more than one learning outcome. Ideally, there are cognitive thinking skills along with content mastery embedded in the objectives. Aim for goals that could realistically be completed within a 75-minute session. Ideally, these goals are specific, and students can themselves identify if they have achieved them within the session.
One of the most widely used techniques for lesson planning is called Bridge, Outcomes, Pre-Assessment, Participatory Learning, Post-Assessment, and Summary (BOPPPS). Once you have identified the learning outcome for the desired lesson, you may use this method to determine the necessary lesson components. (Source: Pattison. P. & Dav. R.W.C… Eds. (2006). Instructional Skills Workshop Handbook for participants. The Instructional Skills Workshop International Advisory Committee TAG. UBC: Vancouver.)
This part relates to how you can get the students situated in a classroom and focused to learn. As they might have come from another class or are having an early morning session, grabbing their attention and taking a little time to make them fully present and engaged in the lesson is ideal. Some examples of how you can do that include:
In this stage, you share with the students what you are planning to do for the duration of the session and what the desired outcomes are. Let them ask questions on the plan for the day.
This can sometimes be combined with the Bridge part of the process. This is the stage at which you activate the student’s prior knowledge and assess what they already know. It could be about merely evaluate the basic skills needed for the rest of the lesson or skills specific to the week’s lectures and course content. This is an excellent way to ‘warm up’ for the rest of the lesson. Some examples of activities to do would be a mathematical problem, a brainstorming session identifying everything they remember about a topic, or asking them to discuss a concept among themselves.
You can find additional techniques to assess student knowledge here.
Recitations and lab components are specifically designed with the student participation in mind. To ensure that the students are getting the most benefit from the lesson, use well-structured activities and have backup activities in mind for clarification. This can include problem sets, discussion questions, or clarification on theory. You can share these with the students before the lesson so they can look at them beforehand and get acquainted with the material at their own pace outside of class.
At the end of the lesson, it’s good to have a way to assess whether or not the students have achieved desired learning outcomes. This activity should be implemented with the goal to see who has understood the content and who has not, meaning it is meant to allow you as the instructor to hear from all of the students, and not just the few who are more vocal, linguistically capable, or nuero-typical. To assess knowledge, you can think of a bank of activities to alternate between to keep things interesting.
Some examples include:
You can have students shortly summarize the main points of each lesson at the end, or where appropriate, you can provide this for them. This provides a snapshot for students to identify areas that they need to go back to in their own time and provides a sense of accomplishment. If time permits in your planning, you can have the students prepare this short summary in a shared google doc or Jamboard.
Remember that the method above is a guide, not a set of rules. While you teach and as you continue to plan your lessons, please take into account your students and their needs. You can always deviate from the original plan based on what is beneficial to the students.