Friday was the TA orientation for our department. It turns out we only had one hour, so despite our hopes to follow the wise suggestion of an earlier commenter and have the future TAs practice teaching in-front of each other, we ran out of time. Instead we modeled interactive lecturing and group work. I think it went better than last year's though as it was only an hour it certainly wasn't complete. I later met a fourth year student who's new to our department and was previously in the math department. She mentioned that the math department has a 4 day TA orientation. So it seems the CS department cares about this about one thirtieth as much as the math department...
One of my personal goals for the hour we had was to encourage the TAs to have their students do group work. I got to get my support of group work into the mix, so I was happy about that, and it helped me to discover the extent to which I am totally reliant on and in favor of group work. In fact, while I believe many people find encouraging group work daunting, I find teaching a class in which the students are only listening to a long lecture from me daunting. Group work always provides a nice context switch for me as well as the students - I feel less like I'm "on" when I'm walking around and helping students in smaller groups or individually. Good for me, good for the students - I'm baffled that everyone doesn't teach this way.
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