When I was first looking into graduate school programs, I was attempting to avoid having to teach at all costs. However life, and especially research funding, does not always work out as planned. I’ve been a TA now for several years and have to say teaching has greatly enhanced my graduate school experience. Yes, it does take a lot of time away from doing your actual thesis research, but it does develop many valuable skills. I’ve noted a few:
1) Public Speaking – Lecturing on a new topic every week that you may or may not be very familiar with. Being able to stand up in front of a group and deliver content in an engaging way takes a lot of practice. Undergrads make good test subjects since they are stuck listening to you.
2) Time Management – You have to balance your own course work, teaching responsibilities, and research. Throughout the rest of your life you are going to have multiple projects and deadlines that have to get done.
3) Really learning a topic- People always say you never really know something until you have to teach it to someone else. My understanding of microbiology has greatly improved since you never know what questions the undergrads might ask.
These are just a few of the many skills I feel I’ve honed during my time as a TA. Plus, after you teach a course a couple of times you become an expert, and it is nice to have something each week that you know you excel at as a feel good boost.