The night before every Chemistry 30 hourly, Richard Goodman '91 paces the halls of Cabot Library.
Goodman is not an anxious pre-med worried about his orgo grades; he is a teaching fellow in the course. And he wanders through the study cubicles not to find research materials but to help students understand the class' difficult material.
Goodman, who won last year's Levenson Prize for excellence in teaching, is many students' dream. He is a section leader who cares deeply about his students, who prepares well for class and, whatever his lab schedule, is always available for undergraduate concerns.
Students say these qualities are just what they often fail to find in their other TFs. In a Faculty which does not train its section leaders in the art of teaching, the excellent ones stand out.
Both Goodman and David Bear '91, a Physics TF who was the runner-up for last year's Levenson award, are famous among undergraduate science majors.
Testimonials to their excellence are not difficult to find.
"Rick was basically the one who taught everyone everything," says Ari E. Miller '96. "He was absolutely essential."
"I would have died without Rick," says Joel S. Orlina '96. "He made what would have been academic hell less painful and more tolerable."
"Rick was just really into the material," says Brigette M. Roberts '96.
So what makes a good TF? What should other section leaders look to emulate in Goodman and Bear's performances?
The answers are scarcely surprising.
The first thing students seek is accessibility and a commitment to helping undergraduates.
Bear, for instance, had "24-hour" office hours the week before the Physics 15b final. And he hosted weekly study sessions that often went until 2 a.m.
"[Bear's] greatest attribute as a teacher is that he cares very much about students," says Angelina Zappia '96.
Miller says Goodman spent an inordinate amount of time on the class, both through preparation and office hours.