As a TA for a professor, it can be difficult to figure out your relationship to the students. You don’t have the same automatic authority as the professor or sole instructor of the course, but you also obviously are not one of the students. So how should you behave towards the students? How strict or authoritative should you be? The answer will largely depend on your own teaching style and comfort level with the students. While some TAs choose to be more strict, others prefer a more relaxed attitude. For example, this TA found a relaxed and friendly style worked best for him:

TA Testimony—“When I started TAing, I attended a session for new TAs held in my department. That session talked about how as a TA one has to define office hours and not meet students outside office hours, and also suggested TAs cannot be friendly with students. In short, TAs should show that they know better and more than students and they are one level above the students. My experience as a TA was totally different than what I heard in the session. I had official office hours, but I was always open to meet students outside office hours, sometimes in the library or near the MU, and solve their doubts. I always had an open mind to share my ideas with them and listen to their thoughts/ideas. It’s a two way learning process. I made my rules and limits, as per the requirements of being a TA, but I was not very strict. In conclusion, I have not found it necessary to hold myself above the students, but that it works well for me to be a friendly TA who is more like another classmate.”

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