Teaching Fellow Etiquette

Guidelines to follow when running a session:

To do before students arrive:

  • Have all materials and books out
  • Set up the computer used for signing in and research
  • Configure the room so it works for small group activities and one-on-one settings
  • Put your materials away

To do as students arrive:

  • Greet students as they arrive, tell them your name and as for theirs
  • Have the student sign in and ask what class they are there for
  • Pair the student with others in the same class if possible

To do during a busy session:

  • Have the student take out their materials and tell them you’ll be over in a minute
  • Give them a small task to start or think of specific questions they have for you while you talk to another student

It’s the small actions like smiling and inviting students into the TF room that makes them more comfortable, willing to learn and excited to be there.


Time Management: Resources for a Busy Session


  • If you are working with another TF, recognize your strengths and work with students according to what you are good at.
  • Have a student think of three questions for you by the time you return to help them.
  • Have one student who you have helped teach others what they know.
  • Use the board!
  • Organize students based on class/professor/project


  • Use Concept Maps for understanding readings or planning papers.
  • When writing a paper, start with the conclusion and examine the explicit and implicit premises for the argument to determine if it is valid.
  • Pair students and play “Devil’s Advocate” for you partner’s main position in their paper.
  • Pair students and have them create three questions about a peer’s paper

Problem Solving:

  • Work through a general issue or a problem that all students have together/on the board so they understand the process and can do more work on their own.
  • Direct them to examples in the book or examples from personal experiences.
  • Have students only do one part of the problem and pass it on to the next- group problem solving.

Lead TF Mike Green is a semifinalist for NFF honors

Lead TF and senior offensive lineman Mike Green is one of the semifinalists for the National Football Foundation (NFF) National Scholar-Athlete Awards, and in particular the 2013 William V. Cambell Trophy. This award is presented to the top-scholar athlete in collegiate football.

Green is one of 170 nominees and he is one of 39 nominees with a GPA of 3.8 or higher. In addition to the GPA requirement, the award requires nominees to be an outstanding football player as well as demonstrated excellent leadership and citizenship abilities. The NFF Awards committee with choose up to 16 recipients and will make the award announcement on Thursday, October 31.

Teaching Fellow Code of Ethics


During the new and returning Teaching Fellow training during the first weekend back on campus, we discussed techniques and strategies of being a successful TF. Over the course of the two day training, we covered how to use Tutor Trac, teach to multiple learning styles, remain ethical and ask good questions. Although there were a lot of highlights from the weekend, one of the major takeaways was the development of a Teaching Fellows Code of Ethics.

In looking to the Hippocratic Oath as our model, the new TFs developed there own code of ethics to confront and overcome common ethical dilemmas in TFs.  Below is the set of guidelines for ethical behavior as a Teaching Fellow.

HWS Teaching Fellow Code of Ethics

  1. Be patient
  2. Stay focused and attentive
  3. Provide guidance and tools to succeed
  4. Respect student/professor confidentiality
  5. Don’t pretend to know the answer
  6. Sympathize with students
  7. Equal environment à Create a “safe space”
  8. Help all students
  9. Look at everything objectively
  10. Find the balance between helping too much and not at all.

What are they doing now: How being a TF helps graduate Kristen Kush in her job today!

Former Lead TF in chemistry Kristen Kush is now a chemistry teacher through Teach for America. Here’s her story of how she became a TF and how being a TF in college helps her now:

Former Teaching Fellow Kristen Kush

If someone had told me that I would be a high school chemistry teacher right out of college, I would have definitely responded with “Ha, you’re crazy.” However, from early on in my undergraduate career teaching was something on my radar. Before we talk about the myriad of ways the TF program has helped me in my current role as a Chemistry teacher, let’s rewind to 4.5 years ago when I was a first year at William Smith. I was a frequent visitor to the Spanish Teaching Fellows and I found the program extremely beneficial as far as the help they provided and the information I learned while watching them help other students. The atmosphere was so welcoming there (even though it was the basement of Smith Hall) that I would go there with just one Spanish question with the intention to hang out and do other work. Later that same year, I was nominated and selected to be a Teaching Fellow in the Chemistry department.  I thought that this was a position I could definitely see myself in – teaching and Chemistry – a perfect mix! When I was hired to be a Lead TF, I learned more about the administrative side of teaching. I learned to give my mentees feedback on how they were doing as TFs, how to conduct interviews, and how to work independently on a project. Today,, so much from the Teaching Fellows program has been beneficial to me as a teacher on a daily basis.

The top five ways the Teaching Fellows program has helped me with my job:

5. Hearing about this thing called Bloom’s Taxonomy. Okay so I admit, I didn’t really know how this could be useful as a TF. Now, it’s something I have to consider daily when making objectives and writing questions. For example, do I want students to have to define a solid, liquid, and gas or compare and contrast the three states of matter? One of these options is much “higher” on Bloom’s and would show better understanding. For more information on Bloom’s Taxonomy, click here!

4. The importance of a welcoming atmosphere. As I had mentioned, the Spanish TFs, even with their location in Smith basement, was a place I wanted to go to do work. Now, I do my best to make my classroom a place where students want to be and make myself available for help before and after school.

3. Learning Styles. As a TF it was important to adjust the method of teaching to help students. It is definitely a more difficult task in a classroom, as it is less of a one-on-one situation, but it is useful to recognize that students learn differently so that I can plan activities and be more helpful outside of class.

2. Having teaching experience. It was a great opportunity to be the person that students went to when they were struggling. I was introduced to some common confusions in chemistry that I am now prepared for, and I know when they’re coming.

1. Patience. Patience. Patience. A very valuable trait for a TF, maybe even more for the Chemistry TFs who worked Sunday nights. I have to be extremely patient when I teach 5 classes of 88 students in 3 different classrooms. It is definitely an adventure, but it does require more than a little patience.

Slow TF hours? Here are some ways to attract students!

Low nights and low numbers? Visit some classes mid-semester!

The middle of the semester can be slow in some departments, but usually the numbers will pick up at the end of the semester as final papers and exams approach. We want to encourage students to come in to TF hours before the very end so that they understand the material as the course goes along instead of trying to cram a full semester’s worth of content into the last few nights before exams.

A great way to reach out to more students is to visit the classes halfway through the semester or so and invite them to come by, particularly in classes that you have not seen many students from. This is your chance to remind the classes you are available and want to see them! Showing the students that you are friendly and eager to help will make them more comfortable with the idea of dropping in. Some things to include in this quick Teaching Fellow Infomercial  are your hours, the location where you work, your name, and a little bit about yourself. Although you did this at the beginning of the semester, repeating this information again to the classes (and writing it on the board) will encourage more people to come by. You can also tell the classes the types of assignments you have helped people with that semester, especially specific assignments pertaining to the class you’re visiting. Another option is leading or assisting the professor in a short lesson or game to show the students how approachable and knowledgeable you are!

If the professor does not have enough time to allow for this, talk to him or her about organizing a study table or night-time review session for their class that can take place during TF hours. This way, the students can study together and you can oversee and help with their questions while also helping other students from different classes.

You can also make a cool or funny poster midway through the semester to attract new people!

As you know, everyone can benefit from Teaching Fellows if they take the first step to visit hours. Keep up the good work and remember that you are having a very positive impact on the students you see!