GT 1000 Now Calling for Fall 2016 Instructors, Team Leaders
Georgia Tech’s First-Year Seminar is taught entirely by faculty and staff volunteers, with upperclassmen students serving as team leaders (TLs).
The instructor application deadline for this fall is March 28, and the team leader application deadline is March 7. If you’ve ever thought about going to the head of the class but would like to know more before applying, read on.
The primary goal of GT 1000 is to support the success and retention of first-year students. Each section of the 1-credit course — there are about 100 every fall and a handful in the spring — meets an hour a week and is taught by either a faculty member or a staff member who has earned a master’s degree or higher. (Staff with bachelor’s degrees may apply to co-teach.) Each instructor has a set of TLs, with one for approximately every five students.
Class sizes typically top out at 20, and there are three types of sections: major specific; cohort or special interest (such as Honors Program or undergraduate research); and interdisciplinary.
Most sections are led by staff members, noted Lacy Hodges, who serves as academic transition program manager. “Faculty have a teaching load already, but a lot of staff members might not have an opportunity to work closely with students,” she said. “GT 1000 gives them that opportunity.”
For faculty who teach GT 1000, the class offers a more intimate, discussion-based approach, Hodges said. “They can have a different relationship with the students,” she said. “It can be a lot less intimidating than ‘this is the person giving me the scary tests.’”
The curriculum is guided by specific learning outcomes — each student must write a resume, take a study skills self-assessment, explore career options, and complete a team presentation — but beyond that, there’s “a good bit of leeway,” Hodges said. “We really encourage instructors to kind of take the temperature of their class and see what the students are interested in.”
All new and returning GT 1000 instructors are required to take a day of training in the summer. TLs receive a half day of training in April. As for time commitment, in addition to class time, there are generally several hours of weekly preparation involved.
Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Steven Girardot has taught GT 1000 since 2005 and previously directed the course. Over time, he said, instructors naturally become more familiar with the content and “flow” of the course, and some co-teach to share the workload. Still, he said, volunteers should anticipate and be prepared to manage the full range of instructional responsibilities.
“The Center for Academic Enrichment provides a lot of resources and lesson plans to reduce the administrative workload and make it as easy as possible, but at minimum, you’ve got to prepare lesson plans, facilitate class, work and meet with TLs, and grade assignments,” Girardot said. “It’s offered for a letter grade, so we do take that part seriously.”
One component of the class that Girardot thinks makes GT 1000 especially valuable to students as well as satisfying to teach is the instructor/TL partnership. “Once you create a good synergy, it’s an instructional team, and that’s nice. TLs add a lot of value to the course,” he said.
TLs serve as an additional contact point for first-year students and help shape their experience by facilitating small group discussions and offering mentoring in and outside of class. A Team Leader Advisory Board (TLAB) helps guide their participation.
Dhrumi Patel, who is part of TLAB this year, was unable to take GT 1000 her first year because of scheduling conflicts. Now, as an upperclassmen, she knows the benefits she could have had.
“Even as a second-year TL, I was learning new things myself,” she said. “But as a second-year student, I had knowledge about Tech that freshmen did not. Sharing this knowledge helps new students become more successful because they can learn from more experienced students who can provide tips in all kinds of areas.”
TLs also grow their own leadership skills by leading small groups, making presentations to the class, and working with faculty and staff instructors.
Craig Womack, assistant dean and director of Undergraduate Programs for Scheller College of Business, was selected by students as GT 1000 Instructor of the Year in 2015. He has taught the class for five years, and not once has he considered giving it up.
“It’s an amazing experience,” he said. “Just that personal achievement you feel when you see where the students are when they start and where they finish.”
Just as teaching GT 1000 is voluntary, so is attendance. About 65 percent of incoming students take the course.
Some students sign up for the course with a degree of skepticism, Womack said. “They come in thinking maybe there’s not going to be much value added to their curriculum, but they quickly realize that there are some great takeaways.”