Mariana Bockarova, OISE

2014 TA Teaching Excellence Award

DID YOU ATTEND ANY OF THE TEACHING ASSISTANT TRAINING COURSES OFFERED BY CTSI/TATP?
a. How did the certificate program overall contribute to your development as a teacher?

The AUTP program greatly contributed to my development as a teacher. I found the practicum component to be particularly invaluable because it gave me, for the first time, the opportunity to be evaluated by peers. I was given detailed and specific feedback which really helped me constructively grow as an educator.

b. Which one workshop was most useful for you and why?

I particularly enjoyed the “Strategies for Effective Grading” workshop because I found it led me to question evaluation practices and whether the general models of evaluating knowledge were at all valid.

YOU RECEIVED A 2014 TEACHING EXCELLENCE AWARD. WHAT DOES THIS RECOGNITION MEAN TO YOU?
As an educator, my students make me feel as though I have the best vocation: I am lucky to have the opportunity to work with such dignified, intelligent individuals on a weekly basis every year. I am grateful and feel privileged to engage in meaningful work wherein I interact with gifted people who expand my mind for two hours every Friday. With the utmost sincerity, I can only hope to do for them what they do for me. As such, I take my role earnestly: I know that I have the ability to shape not only a student’s thoughts, but his or her very experience for an entire academic year at a large and prestigious university. I approach this role with humility, honesty, and respect, because I truly feel blessed to be in a position of potential influence for any given student. Receiving this recognition tells me that my students appreciate my unconventional approach to teaching, endeavor to be accommodating, and honest attitude in regards to my beliefs surrounding not only educational philosophy and practices, but the subject matter at hand.

CAN YOU RECALL A TEACHER WHO INSPIRED YOU?
My fifth grade teacher, Glenn Cuthbertson. Although his students were only nine and ten years old, he treated us as he would adults: He believed that all people were intelligent and capable, and in sincerely believing in his students, he taught us to see own potential and reach beyond it.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO NEW TAs?
I would advise new TAs to provide their students with skills and information that not only expand their knowledge, but act to critically question the world around them. Beyond the role of an educator, I recommend striving to learn from students, just as they would learn from a professor or colleague.