Plan and deliver learning experiences using pre-determined learning outcomes. Facilitate discussions, organize interactive sessions, and provide constructive feedback to participants.


Jump to section: Understanding Teaching | Cultivating Teaching | Quick Guide to Being a Successful TeacherTaking Action | Resources | Need Help? | References


Understanding Teaching 

Teaching is the process of conveying knowledge, skills, and ethical norms to meet the educational, professional, and social needs of students. [1] In addition to the conventional classroom setting, teaching has other forms including supervision, mentorship, tutoring, coaching a team, and facilitating a workshop. 


Why does it matter?

The passion for communicating knowledge, the joy of helping others to succeed, and the desire to improve society ‒ are some factors motivating individuals to pursue a teaching career. [2] Some may simply want to teach because they had bad teachers. Do you aspire to be the teacher you wish you had? Beyond the classroom, teachers are role models who influence students’ ethical behaviours and professional choices. [3] 

If you value lifelong learning, teaching is a career path that requires an ongoing learning process so that your teaching material remains consistent with the latest knowledge and practices in a given field. [4] For instance, if you are seeking an academic professorship career, teaching courses reflecting the latest research developments in an area is inevitable. While mainly assessed based on research success, professors are also teachers and therefore need to possess the skills and abilities to deliver a message, explain their research, and inspire students. In fact, the Teaching-Learning-Research connection is highly valued for the academic success of students and professors equally. [5] 


Cultivating Teaching

While aspects of good teaching are subjective, cultivating oral and written communication skills and continuously replenishing your knowledge are important steps toward developing the ability to explain an idea or answer a question with clarity and precision. [6] To improve as a teacher, identify your strengths, weaknesses, and the gaps to fill by interacting with your students and considering their feedback, and by seeking advice from peers or teaching experts.  

Teaching assistantships allow you to practice and experience teaching a class or a lab/technical course during graduate studies. The skills acquired while teaching, such as interpersonal and presenting skills, are highly transferable to other professional contexts beyond graduate school. [7] Additionally, this experience can also help you to decide whether a post-degree teaching career is right for you. 

McGill Teaching and Learning Services (TLS) offer an extensive list of teaching resources covering various topics including: Learning theories and assessment, creating teaching portfolios, diversity in the classroom, answering students’ questions, and others.  


Quick Guide to Being a Successful Teacher 

  1. Be empathetic, open-minded, and accessible to students with questions, concerns, or suggestions, acknowledging that students learn at different rates and in different ways. [8]
  2. Be a class leader: Communicate learning outcomes, set clear expectations, and encourage teamwork and peer support. [9] 
  3. Conduct self-evaluation to improve as a teacher, taking into account feedback from supervisor, peers, and students. [10] 
  4. Adopt innovative teaching strategies that address the diversity in your classroom and follow the advances in your field. [11] 
  5. Contribute to the content and design of curricula and programs, when possible. [12]
  6. Overcome common teaching challenges – Consult TLS practical strategies for more information. 


Taking Action

Professional Development & Training 

  • Workshops – AGSEM Teaching Assistant Training – Half-day session offering 6 teaching workshops to choose from to develop communication and teaching skills. Open to all grad students. 
  • Workshops – SKILLSETS Learning to Teach Series: One-day conference aimed to equip participants with knowledge and tools to become a better teacher and create a successful learning environment for students in the classroom. 
  • Workshops – T-PULSE – Graduate Teaching Workshop: One-day training workshop designed to improve science graduate students’ TAing techniques and confidence.
  • Check myInvolvement for upcoming workshops and programs by searching for events tagged with this category: Teaching 

Gaining Experience




Books, articles & reports

Groups & Associations

  • AGSEM – McGill Teaching Support Union.




Need help? 

McGill Teaching and Learning Services.
Tel: 514-398-6648
Email: tls [at]


[1], [6] Teaching and Learning. Prozesky, D.R. (2000). 

[2] Motivations for choosing teaching as a career: An international comparison using the FIT-Choice scale. Watt, H.M.G. (2012). 

[3] Encouraging students’ ethical behavior. Prohaska, V. (2013).  

[4] Importance of the Lifelong Learning for Professional Development of University Teachers – Needs and Practical Implications. Duta, N. (2014). 

[5], [12] Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF) 2011. 

[7] Professional Development: Shaping Effective Programs for STEM Graduate Students. Denecke, D. (2017). 

[8] Teachers’ empathy: can it be predicted by self-efficacy? Goroshit, M. (2015). 

[9] Oakley 2004.

[10] Gathering Feedback from Students. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. 

[11] McGill Teaching and Learning Services (TLS). 


As a McGill student, your participation in activities such as training workshops and volunteering are tracked on your Co-Curricular Record (CCR)! Having your co-curricular activities listed in one document can help you revise your CV or cover letter, prepare for interviews, and explore career options. Learn how to leverage this important document through myInvolvement, and make your training count!
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