I am very interested in equipping other people to help them in their professional and personal pursuits through the practice of teaching. Here are some of the teaching opportunities I participate in.
Delta Certificate in Teaching, Learning, and Research
The Delta program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is focused on training current and future faculty members in ways to improve their teaching. Through pillars of teaching-as-research, learning communities, and learning-through-diversity, Delta cohorts learn to foster a safe and fruitful learning environment for all. During my graduate school tenure, I completed the Delta Certificate—the result of enrolling in numerous courses, completing a teaching-as-research internship, and assembling a final portfolio with reflections and demonstrations from my time in the program. You can read my portfolio at ethan-nelson.education.
Software Carpentry is an international organization that instructs students of all ages and professions around the world about general programming, collaborative coding, and best practices in science reproducibility. I have served as a helper for a few of the workshops held at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (1, 2) and also as an instructor (3). Finally, I am a certified instructor for Software Carpentry.
Radar and Satellite Meteorology Teaching Assistant
I served as the teaching assistant for AOS 441: Radar and Satellite Meteorology at the Univeristy of Wisconsin-Madison in the Spring of 2015 and 2016. This opportunity entailed leading the two hour weekly laboratory session (where students would investigate concepts learned in class with real-world active and passive instrument data), helping students with homework and assessment help in weekly office hours, and improving on the existing laboratory curriculum. To assist in building a community of learning, students would post their lab write-ups on a class blog and then discuss others' posts, as each student or group generally was assigned a unique case study for analysis.
One of the lab sessions involved a real-time severe weather lab, where students filled the shoes of radar meteorologists with the National Weather Service and issued warnings for the event as it evolved. To further realism of the event, I created a weather warning console, where students could issue warnings, review previous warnings, and view storm reports as they came in. I also built an interactive applet that allows students to dissect a model simulation using radar observations at different frequencies to see the strengths and weaknesses of each different band. This work was covered in a Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society article.
Computational Methods in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Co-Teacher
I had the opportunity to propose a new course with my graduate advisor for our department, AOS 573: Computational Methods in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. I was able to design the curriculum layout and lay out the case for why our department needed this course--to expose graduate and senior undergraduate students to the importance of programming in our field specifically, to highlight that language choices are often secondary to accomplishing a goal, and to provie a safe environment for carrying out programming projects. Our proposal succesfully navigated the department and college approvals and, ultimately, we were successful. In tandem, my advisor submitted a proposal for a teaching practicum, where graduate students would be team teaching the computational methods course while also learning about teaching methods in a seminar.
The course was first taught in January 2017 with just under ten students. As the curriculum coordinator for the course, I set up our processes such that all course material would be available online, that each week's lecture and lab sessions would come from a separate git repository to distribute common examples and skeleton code, that lectures would be interactive with the instructor programming on the projector with students following along separately, and that each language would end in a small, guided research project where students could actually apply what they learned to some real-world question just as they would in a job. Overall, students enjoyed the course format and, though I cannot discuss results without review board processes, my advisor and I were happy with the course. At the subsequent American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, I gave a talk on our course and lessons learned.