TA testimony

TA Responds to Passive Aggressive Behavior

Submitted by jfishe10 on May 28, 2014 - 12:24pm

Passive aggressive behavoir can be particularly challenging to respond to. It may also seem less serious than outright aggressive behavior. However, if allowed to continue, passive aggressive behavior can foster an uncomfortable classroom environment for yourself and your students. See how one TA responded to passive aggressive behavior from one of her students below. Notice that this TA asked one of her mentors for advice on how to handle the problem. Don't be afraid to speak with your professors about how they might respond in a similiar situation.

Choosing Your Props

Submitted by jfishe10 on May 28, 2014 - 10:58am
The tools you use to transport materials to and from the classroom as well as the supplies you use when interacting with your students can influence their appreciation of your role as the instructor. While some TAs are not particularly concerned with the supplies they use in class, others are concerned carrying a backpack might make them seem the same age as their students (often especially a concern for younger TAs). If you are looking for another way to enhance your professional appearance and subtly establish authority, you might consider the following supply suggestions from a TA.

Preparing Your Script

Submitted by jfishe10 on May 28, 2014 - 10:53am

Preparing what you are going to say and practicing it is a good way to feel more confident in front of your students. Try going over your script in front of the mirror or a friend. When we say "script," we aren't trying to imply you should have every word worked out and memorized---just having an idea of what you want to say, practicing it, and maybe having some bullet points will go a long ways towards a smooth first class.

What's in a Name?

Submitted by jfishe10 on May 28, 2014 - 10:52am

Deciding what your students should call you can be difficult. Below, we've listed the options and common thoughts on/concerns about these choices. Ultimately, go with what makes you feel most comfortable.

Mr./Ms./Mrs. Last Name

Many TAs ask their students to call them by their last name. This formal approach can help foster respect in the classroom, and often times younger TAs appreciate it as a tool for setting boundaries between themselves and their students.

The "I" Statement

Submitted by jfishe10 on May 28, 2014 - 10:33am

If you're like me, you're probably wondering what we mean by "the 'I' Statement." When I first heard of this concept, I had no idea what it meant either. Yet, the "I" statement is a common tool that many of us use all the time---in fact, I just used it to introduce this post. By using my own initial confusion about the "I" statement as a frame for the possible dilemma you (as the reader) may be experiencing in trying to understand the term, I (hopefully) encouraged you to continue reading by implying that you are not alone in confusion and that a solution is possible.

Go with the Flow

Submitted by jfishe10 on May 28, 2014 - 10:32am

A class is made up of so many elements—the teacher, the students, the room, technology—that the unexpected is bound to occur. Learning to anticipate, accept, and even benefit from these unforeseen moments can make you a more dynamic instructor. The following are great tips to help you go with the flow.

Location, Location

Submitted by jfishe10 on May 28, 2014 - 10:28am

Believe it or not, the way an instructor occupies a classroom space sends volumes of unconsciously received communication to students. Thoughtfully locating oneself within the room is a great tool for encouraging specific kinds of student behavior. For example, instructors often lecture while standing in front of a projector screen or white board, and sometimes become so comfortable there that they rarely shift position. To change things up, try walking between student desks or around the back of the room as you talk.

Noise Control

Submitted by jfishe10 on May 28, 2014 - 10:27am

A common complaint of new TAs centers on noisy classrooms. In general, students quickly get to know one another, which is great, but this can lead to an unwanted level of social “chatter” in the classroom that can disrupt important lectures, discussions, or student-led activities. If your class starts to get too noisy, here are some management techniques to try:

Encouraging Class Participation

Submitted by jfishe10 on May 28, 2014 - 10:25am

As an instructor, you will inevitably have some classes that are quieter and less willing to participate in class than others. It is important not to take this personally---a myriad of factors can effect a student's willingness to participate, from the time class is held (early morning classes are often quiet) to the subject matter (a Chemistry major may feel less talkative in an English class) to the student's personality (you may simply have a class of shy students).