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Learning to teach

Friday, November 6, 2020

Hayley Reid almost attended another university. “I was leaning in a different direction, but Waterloo Math blew me away on Visitation Day,” she remembers. “There was a real sense of community, which was a key factor for me.” Hayley also had the opportunity to meet Dr. David McKinnon, her future PhD supervisor who introduced her to an area of research that blends geometry with number theory. “It was my first exposure to the field, and I was sold,” she says. She committed to a master’s degree in pure mathematics and never looked back.

Hayley ReidIn her first year of graduate school, Hayley’s experience as a teaching assistant ignited a passion for teaching. “It was challenging to balance coursework with the responsibilities of being a teaching assistant that first year, but I loved it so much I decided to continue on to my PhD program,” she shares. “One of the biggest highlights of graduate school has been to stand in front of a class and teach students new concepts. For me, it’s an overwhelmingly exciting thing to be able to witness those lightbulb moments.” Over the past two years, Hayley has served as a teaching assistant for more than 10 different mathematics courses.

After finishing her degree, Hayley aspires to teach mathematics at the university level. To continue building her teaching credentials, she has taken advantage of training opportunities like the Math Faculty Graduate Teaching Seminar, the Centre for Teaching Excellence’s Fundamentals of University Teaching program, and a two-year certificate program to build her teaching dossier. She enjoyed her experience at the Centre for Teaching Excellence so much that she joined the staff as a workshop facilitator. “Our goal is to help graduate-level teaching assistants become more comfortable and effective as they teach courses and run tutorials,” she explains.

Reflecting on her time at Waterloo, Hayley appreciates the seemingly limitless opportunities for graduate students in the Faculty of Math. “There is such a large math community here that no matter what you want to study, you can find someone who will be able to supervise you,” she says. “If you want to learn to teach, or you want to pursue professional development in another arena, there are ways to do that. Anything you want to do, you can do here.

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