As we continue to teach and work remotely, many of our faculty members have had to think creatively and adapt to the unique challenges of teaching online. We interviewed our new Coordinator of Graduate Teaching, Dr. Heather Phillips, about her experience coming in as a new faculty member during such a challenging time.
How has your experience as Coordinator of Graduate Teaching been so far?
There has been a steep learning curve, especially since Dr. Dwyer has been doing the job for so long and knows so much about the department and the university. It has been great to work alongside her and see how she handles various situations. Overall, I have enjoyed my time as the CGT and I anticipate enjoying it even more once I become more familiar with the ins and outs of the department and the university.
What are some of the challenges of the job?
There are two big challenges. The first is simply becoming familiar with the procedures, policies, and program requirements such that I can handle situations effectively and provide reliable guidance to the grad students. The second is responding to the varied issues that come up both in my own teaching and in the GTAs' experience. This semester has been particularly difficult due to COVID-19 and the isolation and extra stress it brings to students.
What are some of your favorite parts of working with the GTAs?
I have worked more closely this semester with the first-year grad students because I taught 8970, while Dr. Dwyer continued teaching 8980. Most of us meet in person in a large lecture hall and it has been so refreshing getting to talk with them face to face (with masks!). But whether in person or for those joining in via Webex, I greatly appreciate the enthusiasm, thoughtfulness, and perspective that each of the first years brings to class. It has also been fun to have our journeys at GSU start together in a way. We are all new here and entering in at this difficult time, so it has been refreshing to be with others experiencing similar things.
How has your experience at GSU been in general?
I am enjoying my new role at GSU, but it has been hard to be isolated due to COVID-19. Moving to a new city and school during the pandemic has meant that it will be a while before I can begin to build professional and personal relationships. That said, I have felt very welcomed and supported by the department and the college, including being connected with faculty mentors.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
While I am going to be sad to see Dr. Dwyer leave (thankfully she has agreed to respond to my emails!), I am excited to start the next semester with a bit of experience under my belt and be able to continue settling into my new role. Teaching is such a wonderful opportunity, as well as a lot of hard work, and I look forward to helping the GTAs be effective and enjoy their time as instructors at GSU.