I have had the amazing opportunity to be a Teaching Assistant (TA) for RMI 300: Introduction to Risk Management this academic year. In my TA position, I lead 3 discussion sections for upwards of 50 students in each section. These sections are meant to solidify the knowledge that Professor Carl Barlett teaches during lectures. The sections are meant to supplement and enhance students’ understanding of difficult foundational topics for any risk manager.
In this role, I have been able to develop several skills. I am constantly making sure that the way I communicate information to my students is clear, concise, and correct so that they can better understand the material taught in lectures. I have also tried to increase my awareness of how my students are interpreting and understanding information. There are certain cues that indicate if a class is understanding, or if they are afraid to ask for clarification. Being able to tell the difference has allowed me to pull specific students out of their comfort zone and contribute to in-class learning while helping the entire class learn more.
Being a TA requires good communication, and it also forces one to stop and think before speaking. Many times, students will have questions but not know how to articulate what they don’t understand, or they ask a question that isn’t exactly on point. I have learned a few strategies to combat this, such as asking other students in the room for their answers to the question, or I ask a question in response to their question to require them to think through exactly what they are trying to understand better. Each semester I get the opportunity to continually refine this skill while helping students further understand risk management. Being a TA has been a huge learning opportunity for me – both substantively and professionally.