Teaching

I really enjoy teaching (it’s one of the reasons I’m in academia) and had the opportunity to teach in many different contexts, and with many types of students, during my time in graduate school.  Below you can find my teaching history, as well as some comments from students.

Banneker/Aztlán summer programs (Summer 2016 and 2017)

I taught two one-week modules on stellar scaling relations and MCMC methods each year for our summer undergraduate students (see photo, right).  You can find the ipython notebooks we worked through during the MCMC week here on Github.

Astronomy 202a: Galaxies and Dynamics (Fall 2015, graduate-level course TF)
Q score 4.5/5

Student comments:  “Very helpful, approachable, and knowledgeable.”
“Sarah was great! I was often worried about not grasping some of the concepts, but she was able to explain them again in a really clear way. She also gave one of the lectures, which was great. It was nice to see an older grad student succeed in that teaching role. Great TF overall.”
“She is very helpful and does a good job at explaining and breaking down concepts.”
“Sarah’s fantastic. She was patient and great at explaining really complicated concepts in way that didn’t make the person listening to her feel stupid. That’s a valuable skill.”

SPU 19: The Energetic Universe (Spring 2014, undergraduate non-majors course, Head TF)
Q score 4.9/5, awarded Certificate of Distinction in Teaching

Student comments:   “Sarah was an incredible TF! Her sections were well-structured, effective, and engaging and Sarah went beyond what was required to make herself accessible to students. One of the best TFs I have had at Harvard.”
“Sarah was crucial to the success of this course for her students. It was her, not [Prof X], that connected the various strands of material into a cohesive picture.”
“Sarah is one of the best teachers I’ve actually had at Harvard. Maybe it’s that her teaching style perfectly lines up with how I learn – organized, visual depictions, kindness, and professionalism. She started by having a list of what we were doing that day on the left, and somehow managed to always spend the right amount of time explaining (so clearly) each concept so we got out on time. I understood the course mostly because of section!”
“Sarah is one of the best TFs I’ve ever had. She genuinely cares about her students, and I don’t think I would have done half as well in this course without her.”
“Sarah conducted an amazing section that was especially helpful in understanding some of the more complex ideas that we discussed at the end of class. I definitely got more out of the class because of her!”

Astronomy 120: Stellar Physics (Spring 2013, upper-level undergraduate course TF)
Q score 4.5/5, awarded Certificate of Distinction in Teaching

Student comments: “I did most of my learning from Sarah. She was always willing to meet to discuss material or problem sets, even outside of class, section, or office hours.”
“Sarah is a very efficient TF. She always gave concise feedback on what went wrong and how to fix it. I felt that, especially with regards to coding, she expected a base level of knowledge. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as by the end of the semester I felt that her guides on coding made IDL a great language to use. The lecture on binaries covered a lot of material and managed to remain clear and organized. I felt that during lectures she always emphasized the important concepts necessary to succeed in the course.”
“Sarah was a great TF, incredibly helpful and supportive throughout the semester. She will make a great Professor one day – she is always accessible, and explains all our questions in detail.”