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Learning to Teach, Teaching to Learn

By Kevin Taheri

February 28, 2023

Students sitting in the lecture hall for the introductory Risk Management and Insurance course

I had experienced learning by doing before this school year, but I hadn’t experienced learning by teaching. That’s exactly what I did as a Teaching Assistant for the introductory level Risk Management and Insurance course at the Wisconsin School of Business. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work as a TA for Professor Joan Schmit during her last semester teaching the course. She was instrumental in helping me find my footing as a TA, filling the gaps in my understanding of the material, and setting a tremendous example of what it means to teach.

Kevin Taheri
Kevin Taheri

As a TA, one of my main responsibilities is to help students learn and understand the material by helping them engage with topics during TA practice sessions. Preparing for these sessions and guiding the students’ engagement with the material gives me the opportunity to learn and solidify my understanding of the material in a way that I could not have without teaching. My role as a TA challenges me to learn the foundational and fundamental concepts of risk and insurance inside and out, knowing that I will have students ask all kinds of keen questions. Being there to help them learn has strengthened my understanding of the core concepts in the course, which has helped enhance my capacity to learn and engage with more advanced topics in my own coursework.

Working as a TA has also helped me improve skills outside of the class material itself. Leading class sessions, hosting office hours, and speaking in front of students has improved my public speaking, my confidence, and my communication skills. Finding ways to explain difficult topics differently to students has helped me become better at synthesizing complex information and delivering in a clear, concise way. These are skills I wanted to improve during my time as an MBA candidate, and I know I will use them throughout my career. I am grateful for the opportunity to work as a TA during my second year as an MBA candidate. It has enhanced my experience as a student and member of the business school community, and I look forward to using the skills I have developed as a Teaching Assistant.