Kris (Sanghyun) Kim, Department of Chemistry

TA Teaching Excellence Award 2015

DID YOU ATTEND ANY OF THE TEACHING ASSISTANT TRAINING COURSES OR WORKSHOPS OFFERED BY CTSI/TATP? IF SO, WHICH ONE WORKSHOP WAS MOST USEFUL FOR YOU AND WHY?
Of the workshops that I’ve attended, I would have to choose Mental Health Issues on Campus: Identifying and Responding to Students.

The workshop was very engaging and informative.  We were asked to respond to a variety of real situations that CIs and TAs have experienced in the past, and the format of working through various scenarios not only highlighted the importance of recognizing mental health issues in classrooms, but brought to my attention the large network of support and resources available on campus that I was previously unaware of.

Whether it be discussing different skills and practices that can be applied in classrooms to engage students, identifying what should go into a teaching dossier, or simply being a part of a community of passionate learners and educators from all disciplines with the shared interest of becoming better pedagogues, the AUTP certificate program has been incredibly helpful in my development as a pedagogue on multiple levels.

HOW DO YOU ENVISION WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A GREAT TEACHING IN YOUR DISCIPLINE?
One of the difficulties in teaching chemistry is convincing learners why they should care about the course material, especially if they’re not planning on becoming chemists.  As enthusiasts of our own discipline, I think it’s important to recognize that not every student will immediately perceive the value of the course content as we perceive it.  So I think great teachers in chemistry, or any discipline, are able to accommodate for a diverse range of interest among learners and communicate in a way so that the course material is relevant to the learner and perhaps even applicable to their other areas of interest.

YOU RECEIVED A 2014 TEACHING EXCELLENCE AWARD. WHAT DOES THIS RECOGNITION MEAN TO YOU?
Teaching and learning are really synergistic activities and I’ve had the privilege to work with enthusiastic and passionate students who motivate me and make teaching a very gratifying experience.  It’s very encouraging to know that students are taking time out of their busy schedules to nominate instructors and TAs who have had a positive influence on their learning experience, and I’m incredibly humbled to be a part of this community of enthused educators here at UofT.

I want to acknowledge the highly motivated and talented group of TAs and Teaching Faculty in the Chemistry Department.  I’m very fortunate to have the support of many colleagues and mentors who have provided invaluable feedback, pedagogical discussions, and guidance which has encouraged my growth as an educator.  Last, but certainly not least, I’m very grateful for the CTSI and their commitment to providing the appropriate resources for TAs and CIs to develop pedagogical skills and in fostering an active community of passionate teachers.

With all that being said, I’m just really pleased to know that my methods of teaching have been of value to the students.

CAN YOU RECALL A TEACHER WHO INSPIRED YOU?
My grandfather, my oldest teacher and mentor, spends most of his waking hours reading books across all disciplines.  At the age of 90, he yearns to share his knowledge with those around him and his enthusiasm seems to make any subject matter interesting.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO STUDENTS?
Strive to be active and self-motivated learners. UofT is an incredibly rich source of knowledge, but this can be difficult to absorb if you don’t actively seek the appropriate resources.

I would also encourage students to approach their TAs with any questions, whether it’s related to course material or simply brainstorming studying strategies.  With that being said, I ask students to have patience as TAs may not always have the answer, but we can certainly help you find a solution.  In the end, we’re all here to learn.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO NEW TAs?
Whether you’re filling the shoes of a student or TA, we should all strive to have a growth mindset, so humanize yourself and encourage students to pick your brain.  With such a large campus, it may seem intimidating to accommodate for such a diverse body of students and learning styles at UofT, but it’s truly an incredible opportunity to challenge yourself and develop your skills as an effective educator.  The ability to present the same concepts from different perspectives can serve as an invaluable skill.