November 6, 2012
As you already know, I was offered an assistantship here at MSU to help Dr. B with research requests and presentations. What you may not know is that I had to go through TA training to get my funding. TA stands for Teaching Assistant. And Teaching stands for getting up in front of students to explain something you know lots about.
I don’t know lots about Meteorology. I hope to someday soon, but right now my knowledge is relatively limited. To pass the TA training course, however, I had to get up in front of two judges and “teach” a mini lesson on a meteorological topic.
Pretend you just got to grad school for something new and technical, like Biochemical Engineering, and you don’t know much about Biology yet. You find out when you arrive that you will need to give a ten minute presentation (on Biochemical Engineering specifically), or they may decide not to give you your funding you after all. You have one day to prepare. You will be asked questions at the end of your presentation. Did your heart stop for a second? Yeah, that’s how I felt.
Here at MSU, our presentations had to be designed as if we were introducing a lab exercise to students. Idamis was in the TA training course with me, so we both spent hours online looking for a good Intro to Meteorology lab to base our presentations off of. I eventually settled on “Heating Differences Between Land and Water.” I practiced my speech so many times Tuesday night, I could probably write the whole thing out for you right now.
In the end, I think I passed my presentation. At least, I haven’t yet heard that I lost my funding! I also passed the online exam… and successfully use a fire extinguisher to put out a fire (the last and final training requirement - but that was the fun part!).
My actual assistantship won’t involve any teaching (thank goodness). My first assignment as Dr. B’s assistant is to redesign the State Climatologist website – something I’m really excited to help with. I’ll be sure to share the finished product with you when I’m done.
Rachael has a B.S. in Geography from the University of Maryland and is currently applying to graduate school for broadcast meteorology.