UK GradTeach Live!: Teaching Philosophy in Practice

As a graduate teaching assistant, you are vital to UK’s teaching mission. You have dedicated your time and emotional labor to enhancing the learning experiences and success of undergraduates while balancing your many responsibilities as a graduate student. Now it’s time to showcase your contributions in a celebration of the impactful teaching and learning occurring across campus.

UK GradTeach Live! offers graduate students the opportunity as a current or former TA (recitation leader, lab leader, or primary instructor) to showcase their teaching philosophy and instructional skills to the university community. Participants will have 5 minutes and up to 3 slides to engage the audience in their pedagogical grounding/teaching philosophy and present a concrete example of what that philosophy looks like in the classroom or lab.

The event offers the unique opportunity to practice how to talk about your teaching engagingly in interviews, teaching demonstrations, or chalk talks. The central challenge is to do so in a way that engages and holds the attention of your audience just as you engage and hold the attention of your students.

Written examples of how this presentation might be structured can be found below. Your presentation does not have to follow the structure provided in the written vignettes. These scenarios are provided merely to help you think about an aspect of your teaching philosophy and the concrete way you incorporate it in the classroom or lab.

Preliminaries will take place on March 19 from 5:30-7:30 pm (location TBD).

Finals will be from 5:00-7:00 pm on April 9 in Worsham Cinema in the Gatton Student Center

Cash prizes will be awarded to the first place ($750), second place ($500), third place ($250), and people’s choice ($250) winners!

2019 Finalists

Kayla Bohannon, Philosophy, "Reworking the Lecture: A Conversational Approach to the Classroom"

Sarah Butterbaugh, Family Sciences, "Memes and Theory: Bringing Theory into Context"

Jonghee Lee Caldararo, Geography, "Teaching that Teaches You the True Pleasure of Learning"

Luc Dunoyer, Biology, "Increasing Critical Thinking by Teaching Ecology"

Corinne Gressang, History, "Training Historians: Skills-based Learning"

Hayley Hoffman, Communication, "How to Watch TV Like a Professor"

Kathryn Kohls,  English, "Meme Gif, and Hashtag Rhetoric: Critical Communication through Social Media Genres"

Francisco Luque, Hispanic Studies, "Teaching Spanish with the Multiple Intelligences"

Malinda "Lindy" Massey, German Studies and Teaching World Languages, "Teaching with Memory in Mind: Effectively Honoring Working Memory in the L2 Classroom"

Kateri Kate Miller, Music, "Learn by DOing"

Kanthi Nuti, Chemistry, "Play of Molecular Isomers in Chemistry"

Jannell McConnell Parsons, English, "Centering Student Agency: Target Public Audiences and Oral Histories in Appalachia"

Andrew Welleford, Anatomy and Neurobiology, "Applying the Science of Learning in the Classroom and Doing Science of Your Own!"

Yunzhe Zhu, Agricultural Economics, "Teaching your Students? No, Entertain Them!: How to Improve Attendance of an Evening Class"


Click the following link to register for UK GradTeach Live! Registration will close at midnight on March 8.


Rules and Judging Criteria

Click here for a printable rubric with rules and judging criteria.

  • The competition is limited to graduate students who are teaching assistants or in primary instructor roles. This includes recitation and lab leaders, instructors teaching from a common syllabus, and instructors teaching their own course in the department.
  • Three presentation slides are allowed.
  • Additional electronic media (sound and video files) are permitted but will be counted in the five minutes.
  • Additional props (costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment, models, etc.) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to 5 minutes maximum; competitors exceeding 5 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts the presentation through movement or speech.
  • The decision of the judges is final.



Below are some different examples of how you might structure your presentation.  Your presentation does not have to follow the structure provided. These scenarios are provided merely to help you think about an aspect of your teaching philosophy and the concrete way you incorporate it in the classroom or lab. For specific questions, please contact Ashley Sorrell.


History TA

A graduate teaching assistant teaching recitation sections in history approaches her courses through the disciplinary concept of a usable past. In her GradTeach Live! presentation, she decides to focus on a usable past as a disciplinary-specific teaching philosophy. The presentation will first explain how the concept centers on history’s relevancy in student lives and the development of historical thinking skills by approaching historical topics through a contemporary lens. The TA will illustrate how this philosophy is applied in her recitation section by bringing in a specific example of this approach in action in the classroom. She decides to discuss the lesson she developed around the history of reproductive rights that first focuses on current legislation related to reproductive rights issues and then has students engage in group discussion with historical sources that places the legislation in historical context.

Psychology TA

A graduate teaching assistant who serves as a primary instructor for a 100-level psychology course has experienced success in using collaborative student groups in his course. He decides to focus on collaborative learning as an aspect of his teaching philosophy for his GradTeach Live! presentation. The structure of his presentation will include a discussion of how collaborative learning became a central part of his teaching philosophy and the ways he has witnessed it enhance student learning and engagement in the classroom. The TA will then present a specific example of when he used a collaborative approach to teach, or have students apply a certain concept in his discipline.

Biology TA

A graduate teaching assistant who serves as a primary instructor for a large-enrollment 100-level biology course for non-science majors wants to emphasize science literacy as a primary learning outcome. The presentation will first explain the nature of scientific literacy and reasons to include it in a science curriculum followed by two examples of putting this learning goal into practice. Given the constraints of teaching 200-300 students in a lecture format environment with no recitation or laboratory sections, she decides that a combination of in-class critiques of short case studies and individual hypothesis testing using an environmental simulation would provide opportunities to both critique and collect information. The TA will show an example of a case study and briefly describe how it is used in the classroom and a picture of the food web simulation that students use to pose and test hypotheses.