Teaching can be a rewarding, yet challenging, experience for early career researchers (ECRs) in fields like ecology and evolution. Much of this challenge arises from the reality that ECRs in ecology and evolution typically receive little, if any, pedagogical training or advice on how to balance teaching, research (which can include extended field work), and other demands on their time. Here, we aim to provide accessible, pragmatic advice for ECRs in ecology and evolution who are given the opportunity to teach (as instructor of record). The advice is based on the authors’ collective experiences teaching in ecology and evolution as ECRs and is meant to help ECRs address two challenges: a) balancing the demands of teaching against one’s research, service, and personal life, and b) being effective in the classroom while doing so. The guidance we provide includes practical steps to take when teaching for the first time, including carefully refining the syllabus (course planning), adopting ‘non-traditional’ teaching methods, and taking advantage of free teaching resources. We also discuss a range of ‘soft skills’ to consider including guarding against imposter syndrome (i.e., self-doubt and fear of being exposed as a fraud), managing expectations, being empathetic, compassionate, authentic, and fostering an inclusive classroom. Lastly, we emphasize the need to focus on developing students’ critical thinking skills, integrating research and teaching where possible, and setting limits on class preparation time to maintain balance with your research and personal life. Collectively, we hope the examples provided herein offer a useful guide to ECRs new to teaching.



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Ideas in Ecology and Evolution





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School of Biological and Marine Sciences