Last Tuesday, I attended the GrATE Teach-in and found it very informative; I really enjoyed listening to and engaging in the conversations that came up though-out the night.
The first session I went to was about the null curriculum, we discussed when we learned about sex and gender, what we were told/weren’t told, and how it was discussed. We also talked about what we as a society consider “normal” and why this is what is taught. Maybe it is time that we actually discuss sex and gender as more than just male/female or “other.” I thought this was a great discussion and something that needs to occur more often in order to really see a change.
The next session was about how to initiate and mediate difficult dialog in the classroom. I really appreciated this topic because it is something that we have talked about in Pedagogy class and it was nice to hear about examples from actual courses taught by graduate assistants. A great point was brought up – how to handle these tense situations isn’t really covered in the TA training courses that we have to take before teaching a course. This is one of many reason that I am glad that I took the pedagogy course this semester so at least I have a chance to think about and discuss what to do in these classroom situations. I will say that until I actually experience some sort of conflict in the classroom I probably won’t know exactly what I will do, but at least I have some advice and anecdotes from fellow graduate students.
The last session in the smaller room was about communicating science, something that I have already written a blog about. Most of the points made during this panel we covered in class (how it is important to speak in a way others can understand, the importance of making science accessible, ect.). Some great advice that someone on the panel gave about how to effectively communicate science was to try to find one or two things in your field that everyone can relate to or at least understand and then use that to start your conversation.