If you have found your way to this blog, chances are you are currently, or are soon to be, a Graduate Teaching Assistant. And chances are you have questions. What should I wear to teach? What do I do if my class is too noisy? How do I interest my class in the syllabus? The purpose of this blog is not to dictate answers to these questions, but to share practical advice, tips, and techniques gathered from new and experienced TAs. This blog is, at heart, an inquiry project. We want to know what TAs have done in their classroom that has produced positive results, and what they have tried that has not worked as planned. We hope the responses we have gathered (and will continue to gather) will help you with your own inquiry and guide you to your own answers as you find and develop your own teaching style.

Blog Contents

This blog has been divided into four main sections:

  1. The First Day offers advice on first day concerns and activities such as the syllabus and ice breakers.
  2. Check out Classroom Management for dicussions about the rest of the semester, from handling conflicts to encourging class participation.
  3. Some of the content found in the previous three sections is geared toward TAs who are the sole instructor of their class, although much of the content is applicable to all types of TAs. If you are a TA for a professor, a lab assistant, an online TA, and/or an international TA, you can find stories, tips, and adivce specific to your teaching situation under More Tips.
  4. Under Resources you will find links to articles and websites and information for books about teaching that TAs have found helpful.

*Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that this blog is still under development. As new content is added, reorganization will likely occur. Please be patient with us as we work to make this resource as user-friendly as possible. If you have suggestions, please head over to our contact page and let us know!

History of the Blog

The idea for this blog began when Meghan Nestel, a TA for the Department of English Writing Programs, came to ASU as a first time teacher with tons of practical questions and no idea where to find the answers. After online searches produced limited results, she thought how nice it would be to have an online resource where TAs could share their experiences and learn from each other. In her first-year teaching practicum, she discovered other TAs had similar questions about teaching and frustrations with both the limited and often contradictory advice they received and with an exposure to theoretical concepts they did not feel ready to implement or even fully comprehend. She and a group of other new Writing Programs TAs began this blog to help fill the need for a space centered on practical advice for teacher preparation and classroom management—a space where new TAs could hear accounts of real TA experiences, read about the pros and cons of various techniques, and hopefully formulate for themselves an answer to that all-encompassing question, “…what am I supposed to do?”

Credit for the original creation of this blog is due to this group of TAs: Meghan Nestel, Shersta Chabot, Joseph Kubiak, and Kristen Holland. Thanks is due to Shirley Rose, Director of Writing Programs, for putting Meghan in contact with resources for continuing the blog, and also to Jennifer Cason, Director of Graduate Support Initiatives, for helping to make a home for Diary of a New TA in Graduate Education, where the blog can be utilized and added to by TAs with a variety of needs and experiences.