Emily Branton is a PhD student in the department of religious studies at Carolina. She is currently the head teaching assistant for JWST 106: “Introduction to Early Judaism,” taught by professor Jodi Magness. In her role as head TA, Emily is guiding the two other graduate students who are also employed by the department to help with this very popular class. Her biggest job is leading weekly recitation sections: she has three sections of 20 students each. In these sections, the students discuss the course material covered by professor Magness for the week and explore primary sources that are connected to the source material. As a teaching assistant, Emily brings to light connections between the ancient ideas they are exploring, and the questions, problems, and patterns that are relevant to them in their own world. The class format this year is a little different because of remote instruction, but with creative pedagogy and use of technology, Emily is able to recreate the classroom experience through Zoom. In recitation the students have a range of small and large group conversations, individual, paired, and group activities, creative writing projects, text and image analyses, and reflections on some of the compelling and relatable themes that they discovered in literature from this time period. In short, Emily is really enjoying her role as educator, guiding students through the topics that are intensely interesting for a lot of students from so many different perspectives.
By Tine Rassalle, graduate assistant for the Center