GATEways to Teaching

Some of the GATE members, including Sheva Guy (left) and Crystal Whetstone (second from right).

Have you ever wanted to learn about learning, or be taught how to teach? As a graduate student, your day-to-day life is immersed in academic culture. The further you go in your education, the more you become invested in its practices. If you want to make a difference in the teaching community, the Graduate Association for Teaching Enhancement (GATE) is the place for you.

Students, teaching assistants, and instructors from all disciplines are welcome to join GATE. You don’t have to be a teacher—you just have to be interested in teaching and learning. Through career guidance, networking opportunities and various workshops, GATE helps students merge their graduate and professional goals. 

Established in 2011, GATE was developed for graduate students, by graduate students. United with a common goal of enhancing the graduate school experience, the group set about building an interdisciplinary community of practice. If you’re on a teaching assignment, you can use these practices in your classroom. As a student, these practices can help with your own classroom experiences. 

Many students get involved with GATE to sharpen their teaching skills. If you find yourself on a teaching assignment without any prior experience, that classroom can feel pretty intimidating. Co-president Sheva Guy says GATE helped boost her confidence as a new instructor. 

“When I first started teaching, I was afraid that I would be ‘outed’ by my students— that they would find out that I actually know nothing, or that I would discover that my students knew more than me,” she says. “Kind of like imposter syndrome for educators.” 

“I second the imposter syndrome!” says fellow co-president Crystal Whetstone. “I also had no idea how to fill up class time. It can be so daunting when you're faced with even 50 minutes. GATE helped me know how to design courses to make effective use of my time and my students' time.”

GATE can improve your ability to maintain and manage an inclusive learning environment, but the program’s benefits extend far beyond the classroom. Sharpen your professional development skills by participating in workshops like Creating an E-Portfolio, which will be offered in March.

You can also plan and present your own workshops, learn more about scholarship, take on leadership roles and build connections with other graduate students across campus. “To me, the most rewarding part of GATE is becoming a part of an interdisciplinary community that allows our students to network and expand their scope beyond their research and their departments,” says Sheva.

“GATE offers amazing professional development opportunities, from learning the latest in evidence-based teaching and being able to make immediate use of what we learn in the workshops,” says Crystal. “Even if you aren't teaching now, many of the principles we cover can help you in your own coursework.”

If you are currently teaching or even just considering it for the future, GATE’s December 6 Teach Me to Teach (TMTT) workshop offers hands-on activities to improve the skills and critical understanding necessary for student learning. Participants can share their own experiences both in and outside of the classroom. The complimentary lunch, coffee and tea offered throughout the day-long workshop promise plenty of networking opportunities with other educators.

Any graduate student or early-career professor can register for GATE’s monthly workshops, all of which are free. Each workshop focuses on a different topic—Inclusion and Diversity in the Classroom, Capturing Your Students’ Attention, Models of Teaching Excellence—but they all offer the opportunity to join in a group that’s looking to make an impact on education at UC.

“My favorite experience with GATE has been meeting all of my fellow GATE members,” says Sheva. “Joining this organization has been an immensely positive experience for my own professional development and personal growth. You do not have to be an expert instructor to join GATE—all that is required is a passion for teaching, a willingness to learn and a commitment to help our organization grow.”

Adds Crystal, “I couldn't agree more. It's the people that make GATE a fabulous place to be!"

Want to learn more about GATE?

For questions about the organization, available workshops, or becoming a member, send an email to

Written by Dakota Wright, Graduate Assistant to the Graduate School Office