Skip over navigation

AI Orientation

Most graduate students will teach at Princeton as Assistants in Instruction (AIs), and while the roles AIs play vary across the university, there is no question that AIs play a significant and meaningful role in undergraduate education at Princeton. AIs are found meeting in small groups with students, leading discussions and problem solving sessions, teaching labs, consulting with students in office hours, grading and assisting in the design and delivery of courses.

To help you prepare for these important, skilled roles, the Graduate School requires all first time AIs at Princeton to attend the McGraw Center’s Orientation to Teaching.

During Orientation you will:

* learn effective, research-based teaching strategies specific to your discipline

* gain information about campus resources to support you in your work as AIs

* practice teaching and get feedback from experienced teachers

* embark on or continue your professional development as teachers, which can enhance your CVs for both academic and non academic careers.

Where and when is the Spring 2016 AI Orientation?

Advanced registration by department is required.
Thursday, January 28
9:30-10:00 a.m.
Breakfast & Registration --Frist 3rd Floor
10:00-10:05 a.m.
Welcome and Introduction --Frist 302
Sarah Schwarz, Associate Director for Teaching Initiatives and Programs, McGraw Center Programs, McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning
10:05 a.m.- Noon
Basics of Effective Teaching in Your Discipline*
Noon -12:45 p.m.
Lunch --Frist 2nd and 3rd Floors
12:45-2:30 p.m.
What Do I Do If...? 
Teaching Challenges and How to Meet Them in Your Discipline*
2:30-2:45 p.m.
Break--Frist 2nd and 3rd Floors
2:45-4:00 p.m.
Follow-up, Review, and Preparation for Micro-teaching
Friday, January 29
8:45-9:00 a.m.
Breakfast & Registration --Frist 3rd Floor
9:00-12:30 a.m.
2:45-4:00 p.m.
Follow-up, Review, and Preparation for Micro-teaching
Grading Student Writing in the Humanities/Social Sciences
Rachel Gaubinger and Chris Kurpiewski, Princeton Writing Program
1:30-3:00 p.m. in Frist 307
RSVP to reserve a place.
*Room assignments will be given on the 28th.
**Advance session registration is required.  

Who attends AI Orientation (AIO)?

Graduate students attend AIO right before they start teaching. Departments register their graduate students for Orientation, so you should consult with your department to see if you’ve been registered. You should not attend AIO until you’re actually beginning your AI duties.

How can I teach inclusively?

We all want our classrooms to be inviting places where diverse perspectives and backgrounds are welcome and enrich the educational experience. If you create a classroom climate that is supportive of diversity and promotes a sense of belonging, your students are more likely to succeed. See this list for some inclusive teaching tips you can implement right away, and consider attending a workshop in McGraw for more ideas.  You may also want to consult Claude Steele’s Whistling Vivaldi, which provides an important introduction to social scientific research on the impact of stereotypes and what we can do about them.

How can I figure out if my precept or lab is going well?

  • Ask students to write down a “muddiest point” from class or precept on an index card to learn what they’re confused about
  • Consider using an anonymous mid-semester evaluation
  • Invite an observer from McGraw to visit your class and give you feedback

How can I get my students to talk to each other in class?

Check out these ideas for encouraging interaction and facilitating discussion, and consult McGraw’s library of teaching resources for more ideas.

How can I learn more about teaching?

McGraw offers a full range of programs to help you improve your skills in the classroom and help you prepare for jobs after Princeton using those skills by:

  • Helping you develop techniques to encourage active learning in your classroom
  • Visiting your class and reflecting with you on your teaching
  • Individually consulting with you about specific or general teaching concerns
  • Providing a context in workshops to develop and articulate your values as a teacher
  • Consulting with you as you develop and enhance your Statement of Teaching Philosophy
  • Supporting you as an international student making the transition to teaching in the American classroom
  • Offering you the Teaching Transcript to demonstrate your commitment to effective teaching in your academic job search
  • Introducing you to new classroom technologies and helping you develop pedagogically sound ways of incorporating them into your teaching
  • Engaging you in conversations about teaching with faculty and graduate students from across the university
  • Providing opportunities for professional development to help prepare you both for faculty careers and for careers outside the academy

What else is going on in McGraw?

Check out our calendar and our schedule of workshops for grads and postdocs.

How can I demonstrate my commitment to effective teaching to employers?

Pursue McGraw’s Teaching Transcript and list it proudly on your CV!

How can teaching help me if I’m planning on a career outside the academy?

Effective teachers are both leaders and listeners, with excellent communication and time management skills. Expertise in conveying complex information clearly, asking key questions, guiding groups through problem solving to solutions, and giving critical and constructive feedback are not simply classroom skills, however—these are career skills desired by many employers outside the academy as well, and teaching can help you refine these important skills.

What important University policies should I know about as I begin teaching?

What can I do if I am worried about a student?

You should speak to the course head about students you’re concerned about, and from there you should know that all undergraduates at Princeton are supported by the Residential College system including a dean, director of studies, and director of student life. You can report concerns using the Student in Difficulty Reporting System.

How can I get help for students who need academic support?

As it says on the Dean of the College’s website, “Every Princeton student, no matter how extraordinary, will need to ask for help at some point in his or her academic career. “ While some amount of support will be provided within the structure of a course, you may also wish to refer your students to the range of resources available to them, including support through the McGraw Center, the Writing Center, and the Residential Colleges.

How can I get help with classroom and teaching technologies?