TAs for professors are sometimes assigned responsibilities other than or in addition to grading, record-keeping, and teaching. Whatever your responsibilities, being conscious of the opportunities they bring can help you make the most of your TAship, as the TA below describes.
For the past year, I’ve been a teaching assistant for a professor in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Following are some tips I’d like to offer as a teaching assistant for a professor:
- As a teaching assistant, you will most likely keep records of students’ work. I recommend using Google Spreadsheet for record keeping.
- You may be assigned tasks besides teaching and record keeping, and these tasks can be great opportunities. For example, my teaching assistant position includes writing articles for businessjournalism.org, which is run by the Cronkite-housed Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism. I interview top business journalists and write profile articles about them. This is a hands-on experience that complements my learning at the Cronkite School. Additionally, I help with event planning and event coverage for seminars and conferences held by the Reynolds Center.
- Be self-motivated, and take advantage of the opportunities you encounter as a TA. For instance, I’ve learned that I can pitch my own ideas to the editor at businessjournalism.org, allowing me to pursue stories I am interested in through my teaching assignment. When I help with the events mentioned above, I use the opportunity to network with business reporters and other attendees interested in business journalism. I see it as a chance not only to fulfill my TA duties, but to make contacts that could be essential in my future career.
- Always keep in touch with the professor for whom you are TAing. As described above, you could have many different responsibilities, and it is important to make sure that you are clear of his/her expectations for you as his/her teaching assistant.