The jury awarded the winner for his dedication, engagement with students and overall contribution to the courses “Planning for Artificial Intelligence” and “Parallel and Distributed Computing”.
Teaching is undoubtedly a significant component of PhD programs, and we highly value every Teaching Assistant (TA) who goes above and beyond their standard teaching duties. To acknowledge exceptional work by our TAs, the AIC board has established the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. An Outstanding TA surpasses the standard set of duties, which is precisely what Jan Mrkos accomplished in the courses 'Planning for Artificial Intelligence' and 'Parallel and Distributed Computing' taught during the Summer Semester of 2022/2023.
Jan is dedicated to teaching and is unafraid to enhance the typical tasks to make them more engaging for students. A notable illustration of this commitment is seen in his introduction of a term paper featuring an assignment, 'Help Pepa get home.' This creative twist is a clear homage to the innovative approach seen in Daniel Fišer's original assignment. For his outstanding contribution, Jan received the second ever award and a scholarship of 15,000 CZK. What sets Jan's teaching apart and makes it deserving of this award? See for yourself!
Interview with the winner Jan Markos
What do you like most about teaching?
I like discussing things I enjoy, and fortunately, I usually got to teach subjects I liked, so I consider myself lucky in that regard. I also found great satisfaction when I helped someone understand something, especially when I could answer a question and it 'clicked' for the student. These moments made in-person teaching feel truly worthwhile.
What makes a good teacher?
What makes a teacher great is a blend of preparation, respect for students, and the ability to communicate effectively. I think that with the exception of the preparation, it’s part attitude and part some form of talent.
How is your approach different compared to other teachers?
I can't compare myself to the other TAs; I simply try to avoid the things I didn't like when I was a student. I disliked classes where I could easily get confused and where it was challenging to ask questions, so I strive to be more approachable. Additionally, I make an effort to take responsibility for the errors and mistakes I make or for topics I may not fully understand.
What advice would you give to fellow teachers?
For one, I've discovered that more preparation is generally better than less, especially when revisiting topics I thought I remembered from the previous year (my apologies to the students). However, given that teaching often has to take a back seat to other responsibilities for many here, I believe it's necessary to strategically underprepare and focus on the most crucial aspects that can be addressed within the limited time this year, leaving the rest for the next.
Learn more about Jan's teaching
we recommend checking out the podcast 'Věda bez cenzury', where Jan discusses his beginnings in teaching, dos and don'ts, and strategies for engaging students.