Showing ‘grad’itude to graduate student instructors: How to support your GSIs

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We at the Clog would like to remind the UC Berkeley community, particularly undergraduate students, to show appreciation toward the folks who make this campus go round. Remember to thank and acknowledge the people who prepare your food at the dining halls, who serve you at the various campus cafés and markets, who clean the spaces you occupy, who help you with administrative tasks, who are your lecturers, who assist you at the libraries and who work to make this campus a more pleasurable place for you as a student. These folks should never be taken for granted — every single worker on this campus ought to be appreciated on a regular basis.

We would also like to offer a direct reminder to show gratitude toward the GSIs here on campus — a group of folks on campus who put in many hours teaching, planning and grading for us undergraduates. Most of our GSIs are constantly supporting us, usually wanting to see nothing more than our success. Aside from being instructors, they too are students and have to put in a lot of time and effort throughout their graduate careers.

As undergrads, we are often in close proximity to GSIs, seeing as they teach many of our sections and grade the bulk of our assignments. With all of the work GSIs do for us, it is worthwhile to give them some support back, which many of you may already be doing. If you are looking for additional ways to support and appreciate your GSIs, however, consider the ideas outlined below.

Make a point to go to office hours

While an obligatory task for GSIs, going to office hours is a great way to form a relationship with your GSI. They are there solely to help you and by going to their office hours, you are showing an initiative to gain help from them. Asking for help and getting to know your GSIs better are great ways to demonstrate an interest in the work and other various things they are doing. 

Participate often in class and engage with the work

In my experience, leading a class is much better when everyone is fully engaged, comes prepared and participates regularly. When instructing, one may feel more supported by having a classroom that is present and committed to the work and space. By being an active member in the classroom, odds are you are making your GSI’s life a little bit easier. 

Say “Thank you!” 

Saying “thank you” can go a long way. Make a point to say this to your GSI after every section, especially when they give you constructive feedback or make accommodations for you (e.g., setting up a time for you to make up a test, doing a regrade or giving you an extension). The least we can all do is say “thank you” and mean it when we say it.

Be yourself around your GSI

You are human, and they are human. Remember to treat them as such. They are not out to “get you” and would prefer to be treated how most people like to be treated, with respect and authenticity. Support your GSI by being real and genuine when you speak.

While these are only a few ways to show support to GSIs on campus, we hope that you practice appreciation through some of the suggestions we have listed above or in your own ways. Please remember to recognize and appreciate the workers, whether that be GSIs or others, who make this campus go round!

Contact Gina Wright [email protected].