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The field of Classics has traditionally prepared many of its college and university-level teachers by plunging them into the classroom, or, as one might put it, “learning on the fly.” Some professors enter their first full-time teaching positions having obtained some teaching experience as graduate students, but rarely is this experience accompanied by formal training in pedagogy or education. As a current Ph.D. student who has taught various undergraduate courses in the fields of Classics and English over the course of the past four years, I am able reflect upon some of the challenges that come with being cast into the teaching role with little to no prior formal educational training.

In this presentation, I will outline my personal experience as a college instructor, using it as a lens through which to examine how a lack of pedagogical training can affect a graduate student’s teaching and the learning of one’s students. In discussing these matters, I will explore some of the problems and growing pains a graduate student instructor might experience when trying to figure out how to teach. I hope to bring to light some aspects of my own experience which are common to the general graduate student teaching experience in Classics. I will also touch upon some of the concerns specific to teaching as a graduate student in a large urban university system. Contemplating such issues, I will point out some of the teaching skills I have acquired which would have been useful to have begun to hone before entering the classroom for the first time. In this vein, I will consider what might be done to mitigate some of the turbulence that can arise for the first-time graduate student instructor, proposing a few specific suggestions for pedagogical training which could smooth one’s initial transition into teaching and produce more effective teachers of Classics over the long-term. These recommendations, which will be connected with examples from my own personal experience, include educating graduate students about strategies to engage diverse groups of students in productive discussions, addressing how to serve students with different learning needs, and cultivating the skills of designing effective writing assignments, exams, and course materials.