So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu . . . – Sheila Hannon

Sound of MusicAs that well known song from the Sound of Music suggests, there is a time and a place and many ways to say good bye. For me, So Long Farewell seems appropriate as I near the end of my role as a TA Developer at the Centre for Teaching Excellence. (I will admit that the inspiration came from a recent outing to the musical in Toronto. And just in case you’re a bit concerned, let me assure you that I won’t use this blog to paraphrase the song, nor is there a YouTube video of me performing it.)
As I look back on the last four terms at CTE, I realize that I have learned so much about teaching, about fellow grad students, about the university, and about myself.

I’ve learned that the actual presentation in the classroom is a little like the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot going on before and after that time slot that students never see. I’ve also noticed that there are many people who are working very hard to ensure that students get the best possible education. Teaching is hard work, but very rewarding. And working with teachers to help them achieve their potential is even more rewarding.
For this my final blog, I thought I’d share some of My Favorite Things about CTE and this gig as a TA Developer:

The great people at CTE.
They’re fun, and a very talented group of people. And they are very dedicated to ensuring that UW students receive the best training possible.
Being a TAD. Not a TAD pole but a TA Developer. When I started, I wondered what the TAD meetings and files were about. Now I’m proud to say that I’ve worked alongside some of the best. As a group, these TA Developers in the CUT and ITA programs are interested in pedagogy, and in helping their fellow grad students to prepare for academic careers.
ACRONYMS. This place is rife with acronyms. It was a bit of learning curve, but after a while CTE, CUT, ITA, TAD, TBRG, and even slightly more difficult ones like STLHE become second nature. (They are all on the CTE website, if you want to find out!)
Fine food. I’ve found the student-run coffee shops in some of the engineering, math, or science buildings offer a great range of food, very reasonable prices, and a wonderful selection of coffee. Not to mention the fresh pastries. The trek from the library to DWE doesn’t seem so long when you know what awaits.
Rice Krispie Squares. Darn, they’re good. Not the peanut butter ones, just the plain ordinary squares. And they’re one of the staples at Browsers Café in the library. Makes it tough each day to walk by and not succumb to temptation.
Meeting other grad students. I’ve had the privilege of observing classes in Engineering, Environmental Studies, History, Math, Computer Science, Management Sciences, Biology, Chemistry, and the list goes on. Sadly, none in my own discipline of English. C’est la vie. I’ve picked up a little about Differential Equations, Disjoint Sets, the rebellions in Upper Canada, Bending Moments, Pressure Control Valves, Steady-State Responses and other fascinating concepts. But what I have enjoyed most is getting to talk with grad students who are the TAs and instructors for these courses. They are a fun and fascinating group.
Having a full inbox. It certainly makes you feel important when you open your email and find a lot of new emails. It sort of compensates for the fact that I don’t have many friends on Facebook. I’ll probably have to start subscribing to some lists so I’ll have some correspondence to look at!
Seeing teachers develop. During my time at CTE, I’ve had the privilege to do a first observation and a final observation for some grad students. It is really gratifying to see how they have developed as teachers during their time in the program.

There are lots of other fond memories, but my dissertation beckons ….
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye.

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sheila margaret

Sheila Hannon is a PhD student in English, studying Rhetorical Genre Theory and its application in Journalism. A former journalist, she is a TA Developer with the Centre for Teaching Excellence. She has teaching experience at the college and university level.

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