I had my first real exposure to teaching during my undergraduate education. The challenging nature of the program encouraged us to engage in what I now know is peer teaching. I found I enjoyed working on mastering my portion of the material and then meeting with my friends to teach it to them. This was reinforced with frequent presentations in my biology classes and a peer-taught senior developmental biology course. While my interest in research is what drove me to attend graduate school I soon found that my passion for teaching is just as strong.
Throughout my seven years of graduate education I have taught for all but two of those years, teaching hundreds of students ranging from freshman to graduate students in six different courses spanning non-majors introductory biology to human anatomy to stream ecology. The challenges provided by these experiences have helped me improve and hone my teaching approaches based on feedback from students and learning from both my fellow graduate students and more experienced educators. I have learned the importance of active learning strategies like peer-teaching, i-clickers, and discussion groups and in just sharing my excitement for the material with the students. However, the most important lesson I've learned is to constantly seek to evaluate and improve my approaches to better meet the needs of my students.