The Alan J. Perlis SCS Student Teaching Award
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh PA 15213-3891
(412)268-8525 . (412)268-5576 (fax)

The Five Things

Adam D. Blank
2012 Undergraduate Student Teaching Award

My freshman year at CMU was the last time that I took a full course load. Ever since then, my coursework has been all but irrelevant in comparison with being a TA. I've thrown myself headfirst into TAing each and every semester. My philosophy on teaching (and life) can be summarized into five points.

Respect. Respect your students. Respect your fellow TAs. You will find that many people in both categories who are smarter than you could ever hope to be, just as I have. In the classroom–and in life–treat others the way that you would like to be treated.

Innovate. Don't do the same things everyone else is doing. Mix it up. Find a better analogy for an age-old topic. Teach using handouts and props that someone else might call insane. Don't be afraid to be different.

Make mistakes. Don't shy away from something, because it could turn out badly. Be adventurous. When you make a mistake, apologize, and try something different!

Be confident and persuasive. Fight hard for what you believe in. When someone else shuts you down, keep on pushing. Convince the world that you're right by demonstration.

Find your purpose. Don't glide through life filling requirements. Find something that excites you–and pursue it. Keep on going until you've gone so far that you can't possibly stop.

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