IT Teaching Resources

Podcast: Tatiana Zamora, Jesse Ramirez, Monica Sircar, and Jane Weiss provide insights on how courses supported their career goals

GSE first-year Ph.D. students chat about choosing classes based on personal and research interests

Building community and trust

Speakers: Tatiana Zamora, Jesse Ramirez, Monica Sircar, and Jane Weiss
Moderator: Victoria Docherty

Central questions: 

  • How did you decide what classes you were going to take and how did the classes help you explore your research interests?
  • How different were your classes structured and did instructors use technology differently?
  • What other remote interactions helped you build experience and what is missing for you or what would you still like to learn?

Key quotes:

It was a really rich experience and cross-cohort experience for me. I think part of that was because the books that were chosen were all very different. So if we were in the same group that meant that we really did share some common interests and then we had a lot to talk about going off with that. Jane Weiss (12:27)

We did breakout rooms with more advanced students and it was really interesting and rewarding to hear about their research experiences. It gave us a chance to see what we were learning in context. It was great to learn more about advanced students and the work they’re doing that you could possibly be doing. Tatiana Zamora (12:52)

I tried out graduate coaching, which is a nice resource since they help you on literally anything. You sign up for an hour and they will coach you and help you out. If you have questions you get the answers to them just instantly. Jesse Ramirez (17:39)

I think the thing for me is seeing that relationships and intellectual community are valued and that there’s a space to build that within the course. It is really critical piece of graduate school that doesn’t translate easily into a series of Zoom links being your day. So, an opportunity to hear what is bringing other folks in the room — whether it’s the other students, the professor, or the members of the teaching team — to that work you’ll be engaging in together and to feel seen and known for what is bringing you to that course. Monica Sircar (26:16)


Choose classes based on personal and research interests

  • Required courses and research-practice partnerships provide useful information about universities and working with schools and school districts
  • Students are interested in taking courses that offer research perspectives and insight into research as a graduate student and beyond
  • Advisors play crucial roles that provide helpful suggestions to courses that can help students adapt and make connections with their cohort and faculty

Build classes with different structures, engaging activities and projects, and varying technology use

  • Book club projects provide students the opportunity to read books on shared interests, collaborate within groups, and share back with the broader class
  • Allowing students to sign-up for group activities based on interests can help students to stay engaged and learn from peers with similar research interests
  • Breakout rooms arranged by student academic levels or interests provide interesting and rewarding experiences

Use remote activities to build classroom experience and new relationships

  • Create opportunities for students to connect with others with more similar interests and be able to learn, share, and receive advice from those with similar career paths
  • Assign readings or topic discussions in groups to provide new experiences and organic conversation around shared interests
  • Utilize university resources and connect with graduate coaches for answers to student career questions and guidance on various topics
  • Provide detailed class agendas with clear expectations for in-class work and assignments to help with student learning and understanding

About the speakers:

Tatiana Zamora is a first-year doctoral student in the Developmental and Psychological Sciences (DAPS) program at the GSE and received her B.A. in psychology from the University of San Diego. Her research interests include student agency, identity, and belonging in educational settings as well as examining how resources and programs can promote learning strategies and academic achievement for diverse groups of students.

Jane Weiss is a first-year doctoral student studying Curriculum and Teacher Education (CTE) with advisors Ramón Martínez, Rebecca Silverman, and Guadalupe Valdés. Her current research explores early multilingual and literacy development, teacher inquiry and collaboration, and the intersection between practitioners, researchers, and policymakers.

Jesse Ramirez is a first-year doctoral student in the Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education (CTE) program, with a specialization in Mathematics Education. After previously graduating from Stanford with a B.S. in Mathematics and M.A. in Education with a focus on the Teaching of Mathematics, Jesse taught high school mathematics full-time in South Los Angeles for seven years.

Monica Sircar is a first-year student in the Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education (CTE) program, focusing on Science Education. She received her B.A. in Human Biology at Stanford and her M.A. in Science Education at UC Berkeley. Prior to her doctoral program, Monica worked as a neuroscience research assistant, middle school and high school teacher, science curriculum writer, and full-time parent.

About the author

Victoria (Docherty) Delaney is a third-year Learning Sciences and Technology Design Ph.D. student in the Graduate School of Education and a first-year M.S. student in the School of Computer Science. Her research focuses on how digital mathematical technologies are taken up in 6-12 classrooms and how artificial intelligence can be used to further educational causes. Before Stanford, she taught high school math in three states for seven years. She enjoys jamming with the GSE IT team in her spare time.