Exploring how we teach:

Lived experiences, lessons, and research about graduate instructors by graduate instructors

Edited by Sam Clem

As the second book in the Empower Teaching Open Access Book Series, Exploring how we teach seeks to create a knowledge-sharing resource that validates and amplifies the experiences and voices of graduate student instructors. The collection encompasses the many titles, responsibilities, and levels of autonomy that graduate student instructors hold. The authors, all graduate students at the time of writing, interrogate issues of identity, community, and vulnerability within the context of college teaching, all while providing the reader with concrete takeaways to apply in the classroom. We hope that this collection can support the professional development of graduate students across disciplines, institutions, and levels of teaching experience. 

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Table of Contents

Land Acknowledgement | Contributors 

Introduction: Strengthening Graduate Student Teaching Through Community-Based Knowledge Sharing

Sam Clem

Chapter 1: A Love Letter to My Little Girl

Melissa Leaym-Fernandez

Chapter 2: Classrooms and Minefields 

Jonathan Simmons, Sandra Silva, and Shannon Kelley

Chapter 3: Using a Minoritized Graduate Instructor Identity to Cultivate an Inclusive and Diverse Learning Space

Faqryza Ab Latif

Chapter 4: Transferring Knowledge and Opening Pathways: The Unconventional Doctoral Student-Adjunct Instructor

Samantha Prado

Chapter 5: Navigating the Multiple Roles of Mathematics Graduate Teaching Assistants in Pursuit of Racial Equity, Access, and Justice

Kristyn Lue

Chapter 6: Teaching for Black Girls: What every graduate student instructor can learn from Black Girlhood Studies

Theresa Hice-Fromille


Chapter 7: Validating Students’ Diverse Identities

Erin Hughes


Chapter 8: How Can Graduate Instructors Promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in their Courses?

Taneisha Vilma and Natalie Low


Chapter 9: Nothing About Us Without Us: Practical Strategies for Accessible Pedagogy

Jennie Baker and Heath J. Wooten

Chapter 10: Teacher as Student: Matters of Exploration and Radical Vulnerability in the Classroom

Elizabeth Giardina

Chapter 11: Teaching to Fail: Creating Vulnerable Learning Communities to Facilitate Students' Growth

Avaneesh Narla


Chapter 12: Navigating Evidence and Knowledge Equity

J. Nick Fisk

Chapter 13: Practicing and Researching Pedagogical Metacognition: Benefits for Graduate Instructors During the First Year of Instruction

Audrey Tocco

Chapter 14: Community-Engaged Teaching: Opportunities and Challenges for Graduate Instructors

Stacy Bluth

Chapter 15: Graduate Teaching Communities of Practice: Fostering a Sense of Belonging and Professional Development for Graduate Students, by Graduate Students

April Athnos, Tianyi Kou-Herrema, Matthew Langley, Emile Oshima, Harrison Parker, Hima Rawal, Olivia Wilkins, Alexandra Lee, Seth Hunt, Ellen Searle, and Nathalie Marinho

Chapter 16: Don’t Forget to Breathe: Advice for Coping with Graduate Teaching Anxiety

Ryan Cheek

While being a graduate instructor who exists within a liminal state comes with its own set of challenges, it also comes with unique characteristics that allow for meaningful engagement with ourselves, our students, and the entrenched institutional practices.
Faqryza Ab Latif, Chapter 3

Book Details

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Recommended APA Citation

Clem, S. (Ed.) (2022). Exploring how we teach: Lived experiences, lessons, and research about graduate instructors by graduate instructors. Utah State University.

If, as I assert, teaching for Black girls necessitates that educators engage their students as co-creators, co-witnesses, and co-conspirators, then a radical re-articulation of learning through the interrogation of educational norms and standards must also ensue.
Theresa Hice-Fromhille, Chapter 6
Emphasizing the relationship between the educator and the student as fellow learners lets us recognize that both are resilient and can grow from failure.
Avaneesh Narla, Chapter 11