Think about how you want to portray yourself before stepping into the classroom. Undergraduates often get a sense of the GSI’s style and expectations from the first day of section. Some things you may wish to consider include:

  • Appearance: Students get first impressions of a GSI’s teaching style and general disposition through attire and general physical appearance (casual, professional, etc.). It is important to consider how you want to be seen by students and to dress appropriately to fit that image.
  • Language: The language you use in class also communicates to students the type of relationship you want to establish with them. Do you talk authoritatively, casually (with lots of colloquialisms), or hyper-academically (using jargon and neologisms)?
  • Attitude and Physical Bearing: Body language is important, for it signifies a GSI’s excitement (or lack thereof) for teaching, attentiveness to student responses, and authority. GSIs who lounge around the class, slump down in their chairs, and show little enthusiasm risk losing students’ respect and commitment to the class. GSIs who exhibit interest and dedication have a greater chance of getting students to participate actively in section and to feel excited about course content.
  • Policies: GSIs can help set the tone for the class and establish authority with students by setting clear, firm, and reasonable course policies. GSIs can communicate a desire to work with students by having students participate in creating discussion guidelines.
  • Ethics: Keep in mind the ethical principles that should guide your work with students. These principles, and related policies, are discussed in the GSI Professional Standards and Ethics in Teaching Online Course for first-time GSIs.