Hi, my name is Johnny Zhang. First off if you are new to Learning Support Services I want to congratulate you on getting a job with Learning Support Services. It is a great environment to work and learn in. One of the things that have surprised in my time with LSS is that I have truly learned while working. I want to share the a few things that I have learned with you.
One of the most valuable lessons that I learned during my time in MSI is that no two sessions are the same. Each session is going to be made up of different students with differing learning styles. You must learn to adapt to each session and have different teaching methods. Some sessions you will have to lecture more while other sessions individual contact is preferred. Do not worry, as you will develop a sense of which style a session will require quickly. I wish I could tell you what to look for or what to sense but it is really an acquired skill. You will learn it with time. Also do not worry about if you do not know different teaching styles. The training you may have already had and most definitely will have will prepare you for this job.
Most of the students you will have are not going to be physics majors. Instead you will be seeing a majority of biology and chemistry students. These students are just trying to get through the physics 6 series as a prerequisite for their major or graduate school. Try not to get discouraged if they are not as into the subject as you are. Don’t not be discouraged if the students are not putting all their effort into this class, as they will likely have other classes that they deem more important. Try to make the students see physics as something more as just a prerequisite. Show them that it can be interesting and fun. It will make your job a lot easier but most of all it will help your students learn much easier. At the end of the day this job is about helping students learn and anything that you can do to make that process easier is a plus.
If you do hold review sessions, I suggest that you make your own review sheet with your own problems. While going over the professors practice exam is good, the students are usually given the answers to the practice exam already. Any extra problems that a student can get their hands on will only help them understand the topic. The students really appreciate it when you come into a review with your own review sheet. Another thing that I have found useful in sessions is to give a quiz at the end of the session. It tests the students to see if they have grasped the subject that you have gone over during the session. It also gives you feedback to see if the teaching method is appropriate and effective for that certain topic. Just like how different students learn differently, different topics need to be taught differently.
There are a lot of resources to help you in your job. LSS should have a file with all the review sheets and lesson plans that I have made throughout my time here. I hope that you will look over them in order to get a sense of how I ran my sessions. Feel free to use the review sheets in your sessions. If you ever run into a problem that you cannot solve on your own, do not hesitate to ask for help. All your co-workers are willing to help. LSS has a great staff in the office that can answer all your questions and get you all the supplies that you need to run your sessions. Lastly, just be yourself during your sessions. I know that it is hard but try not to be nervous. The students are looking for someone who is confident. They want a sense that their MSI leader knows the subject. Being hired already tells me that you have the knowledge. You need to project that sense of knowledge to your students. Speak loudly, speak confident but probably most important of all speak in a friendly tone. What I have found is that a lot of students come to MSI because they know that it is their peer helping them. Some students are intimidated by their professors and are looking for a different environment to seek help.
I wish you the best of luck and I have no doubt that you will succeed in this job. Hopefully one day you will be able to pass on your experiences to another future MSI leader.