Tales of a Teacher - Sue Stathopulos
This is the first of three Centre for Teaching Excellence Teaching Stories that will be featured in the Daily Bulletin this week.
The decision to move away from home to attend university is nerve-wracking for many students. As Sue Stathopulos, a first-year chemistry lab instructor, explains, “it’s quite intimidating to come from wherever you’re coming from, regardless of whether you’re arriving from a large high school or a small high school. The university environment is much bigger — classes are considerably larger.” For this reason, Stathopulos works to ensure that her laboratory is a place where students can acquire not just knowledge but also skills and resources to help them with this transition.
As an instructor of first-year students, Stathopulos teaches basic lab skills. In the lab setting, Stathopulos has a hands-on teaching opportunity that most instructors in the classroom do not. “I have the opportunity to interact with students on a one-to-one basis frequently, where lecturers — the classes are huge — they’re one person standing at the front of the room with three or four hundred students.” This is why students enjoy the environment of CHEM 120L and 123L. As Aaron Chan, a CHEM 123L teaching assistant (TA), explains, “Working with Stathopulos is great because she creates a very friendly environment, making it easier to be approachable while teaching, which makes the lab more enjoyable but still informative for most students.”
Outside of the lab, Stathopulos says she likes “to get involved in a lot of first-year activities.” To this end, she has participated in student seminars regarding topics such as how to write lab reports. In conjunction with these seminars, and at the request of past students, Stathopulos plans to offer an open workshop this Fall term. The workshop will focus on the process of critiquing lab reports, to help students feel less overwhelmed by the task of report writing.
Stathopulos also encourages her students and TAs to participate fully in campus life. Since the TAs are closer in age to the students, it is easier for them to “get involved in the students’ lives and find out about them, learn about them, and I think they have excellent success in that.” Stathopulos believes that getting involved and seeing a familiar face every couple of weeks “significantly benefits the students!”
For Stathopulos, the most rewarding part when mentoring first-year students is the “light bulb” moment: “When you see a student ‘get it’ — they finally realize that ‘You know what, I can do this university thing and I don’t have to be intimidated’ — I think that’s the biggest achievment.” In the lab, Stathopulos helps students work towards this light bulb moment by making them more comfortable. She lets them know that making mistakes is an essential part of learning and she drives them to “get involved, in everything. Participate, in everything. Do as much as you can because these opportunities aren’t going to come around again.”
WPIRG fee to go to referendum
Students’ Council voted on July 24 to call a referendum on the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group (WPIRG) fee, which is a refundable fee collected from undergraduate students each term.
The current fee is $4.75 per term.
The referendum’s campaign period will take place from September 19 to September 28, with voting days on September 26, September 27, and September 28.
The exact wording of the referendum question has yet to be finalized, but will be determined in consultation with the Federation of Students President Chris Lolas, Student Council member Marcus Abramovitch, who proposed the the referendum motion, a WPIRG representative, and, according to a Feds statement, “a neutral third party with expertise in unbiased ethical surveying.”
WPIRG was established in 1973 amid a groundswell of grassroots advocacy on university and college campuses in the United States and Canada. WPIRG is a nonprofit that provides opportunities for students to research, educate and take action on environmental and social justice issues.
The last time the WPIRG fee went to a referendum was in 2005. Voting in that referendum was halted before the final results were tallied.
Food Services recruitment fair and other notes
Food Services is looking for “customer service-oriented individuals” to work in a variety of casual part time roles across campus.
Food Services will be hosting a Recruitment Fair on Monday, August 29 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Fed Hall.
Current vacancies they are looking to fill include kitchen food handlers, dishwashers, drivers (class G), catering wait staff, and cashiers.
“Bring your résumé and be interviewed on the spot by our hiring managers!” says a note from Food Services.