neha's journey

Non-clinical Sessional Instructor

early career

Neha just got a new part-time job as a teaching faculty with the public health program. After working for a few years as a public health research coordinator for the City of Hamilton, she was interested in contributing back to the community that led her to become who she is now and supporting early learners.

Coming into the experience, Neha was feeling very excited to get started. She even pulled out her old notes and course outlines to see how she wanted to structure her course and approach a learning environment in which she got to carve out the curriculum. While she’s had a lot of experience in various mentorship and leadership roles, she is curious what it will be like to be in a teaching role. How will she foster an environment optimal for learning? How do different instructional methods impact learning?

She’s currently set aside two evenings a week for this role - one evening is her class, another evening to do planning/marking. She hopes this will suffice! She also wants to be a resource to her students, but because of her hours, it will most likely be virtually and in the evenings. After all the paperwork to get me started (and paid), she is finally ready to start.


Q1. What is MacID?

Your MacID is your unique identifier to access university systems and resources. The McMaster University Technology Services (UTS) offers guidelines on how to set up your MacID:

Q2. What is MOSAIC?

Q3. Where can I find the university policies and procedures such as student code of conduct?

The university secretariat has official policies, procedures and guidelines here. These include: student code of conduct, academic accommodations, research ethics, etc.

Q4. Does the university have an EOHSS (Environmental and Occupational Health Support Services) office?

Yes - you will be asked to complete some health and safety forms at the start of your employment with the university. See here for the EOHSS Office website:

Q5. Where do I get information on how the program and/or department functions?

Connect with your program/department's respective dean or department chair.

Q6. Where do I get access to A/V codes, technology options, or supplies for my class?

Connect with your program/department manager or coordinator.

Teaching Support

Q8. What is the value of different instructional methods as I build my course?

Q9. What are the differences in the approach to delivering virtual vs. in-person content?

Reading week comes quickly! Neha has started teaching her course: one lecture, one tutorial. Some aspects work well, others not so much and need to be tweaked. She’s finding that she wants to invest in her students and help them grow - however, it requires a lot more time to meet students one-on-one, which has been a bit of a challenge balancing her full-time clinical work and personal life. There’s some students who are clearly struggling more than others and she wants to find ways to best support them in the context of an educator.

She’s also realizing how much work goes into planning a class! While she has been using her past experiences to guide her, Neha is feeling like she needs more direction and guidance. She’s unsure whether she’s doing what’s best for the learners in her classes, and students can be really hard to read sometimes (even with both formal and informal feedback). She realizes it might be helpful to keep record of this process so that she can see how she grows as a teaching faculty over the years.

As well, there’s a recognition that students are taking other classes aside from mine...with certain content overlapping, she’s not sure how to connect with other instructors to ensure that our curricula are well-matched (i.e. not overly redundant, covers the essentials).

Q10. Who do I check-in with regarding how things are going in my role?

Meet with your program/department coordinator, manager or dean on a routine basis (if possible).

Q11. How do I build a teaching portfolio?

Q13. How can we support learners in difficult situations?


It’s been four years since she’s started her teaching role in this faculty. She has started to pull back on her clinical hours to focus more on teaching, which has become one of her passions. She’s now training and supporting new faculty as they enter this role. This has been a really growing experience for Neha as working on supporting new faculty, TAs and students all at once is not easy to balance! She’s also looking at how her course fits into the larger curriculum of this program, and helping do cross-curriculum design. There’s an acceptance and recognition that curricula are ever-changing and to find the balance of planned happenstance in the context of education.

One concern of Neha’s is that while she is continuing to balance this teaching role with her other responsibilities, she might hit a point of burnout. She is curious what resources exist to mitigate this potential concern now rather than later.


Q14. Do I continue renewing my teaching contract? What other options exist to make my role more permanent?

Consult your program/department for specific direction regarding continued contracts. McMaster also offers academic opportunities such as contractually-limited appointment (CLA) See here for more details:

Q15. How do I approach completing a needs assessment with my program/department?

Here are two resources to approaching needs assessments based on your objective: General or Targeted.

Teaching Support

Q16. Where do I find opportunities for ongoing professional development?

McMaster's program for faculty development (PFD) offer faculty development workshops and resources. Here is a link to the video archives of some past workshops:

Q17. Now that I am mentoring new faculty, how do I best approach this process?

Q18. How do I navigate burnout?

And resources from HBR: