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5 Questions with Rosa da Silva

Who inspired you to teach?

Rosa da SilvaThroughout my time as an undergrad, I was always fascinated by a number of course instructors who had an incredible ability to teach science in the most engaging way. In particular, my second year physiology professor Angela Lange, who would later on become my PhD advisor. I remember sitting in Angela's class, turning to my friend and saying “one day, I want to be like her!”

What's the one thing you know now that you wish you'd known when you first starting teaching?

I will never forget how nervous I was when teaching my first class ever, as a senior PhD student at the University of Toronto.  At that time, I was trying so hard to emulate my own amazing previous course instructors that I focused almost entirely on my slides and barely even made eye contact with students!  What a difference 11 years makes.  I continue to grow as an instructor with each course I teach. It’s especially so much easier now that I'm fully comfortable just being myself.

How do you know when students understand what you're teaching? What do you look for? 

The best part of teaching is revisiting scientific concepts with students, and presenting the course material in ways that facilitate those a-ha learning moments. Those moments happen during lectures, in labs, and even during office hours. The most amazing student feedback is when I hear, “Oh my goodness, that makes so much sense!”  That, along with the smiles on student faces.

What's the most rewarding part of teaching?

I’m so fortunate to have the opportunity to teach courses from Level 1 to 4. Because of this, I get to witness student learning and growth from year to year, as they progress through their undergraduate journey. Seeing our students move on as amazing junior scientists is, hands-down, the best reward. 

What's the most challenging part of teaching? 

My hope is that in any course, students will have no hesitation coming forward when they may need any assistance with course material, or if they need other support that can be  provided by our amazing student support services team at McMaster. It’s really hard for me to see students in distress .Yet my ability to support students is constantly inspired by my amazing colleagues in the Department of Biology. This includes our faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate TAs.  I could never do what I do in my own classroom without support from the whole team.

Congratulate Rosa at rdasilv@mcmaster.ca.

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