Training to be a TA was very straightforward and covered a lot of topics. However, as the semester progressed, I found myself in situations where my training didn’t help me. These are the tips and tricks I discovered during the semester
- DO be professional. Clarify how you want to be addressed and maintain reasonable response time. For example, I have a one year old so my students knew I was unavailable to answer emails between 10 PM - 5 AM.
- DO CC professors on emails with students. Students may prefer to talk to the TA, but it’s always a good practice to keep the professor in the loop (especially when misunderstandings arise)
- DO NOT expect your professors to always be 100% on top of everything. Send them an email to remind them to assign you work for the week, for example. You are busy, and they are too!
- DO read through course content for the week. Students do get annoyed by missing links and incorrect dates (and they are fairly unforgiving)
- DO forward your professors especially difficult (or angry) students; they are better equipped to handle them
- DO ask your professors for help if you are having a hard time grading or answering a question
- DO ask for rubrics or grading guidance in assignments. Nothing is more stressful than trying to figure out which “slot” a student falls into
- DO NOT expect that all students are like you. Going to graduate school means that we are in the top 5% of our class. We are the overachievers!
- DO provide feedback to your students. If you expect them to do better, tell them how
- DO provide students with helpful resources from when you were an undergraduate (e.g.; Purdue OWL, study help websites, information for the writing center, etc.)
- DO NOT expect more out of yourself than you can honestly complete. If you have two term papers and a presentation to complete in a week plus 50 essays to grade, it may not be reasonable to expect that you can grade 50 more
- DO understand that you aren’t going to make everyone happy; someone is going to have a problem with how you grade NO MATTER WHAT
These are just general tips from what I’ve learned being a TA. It isn’t easy to balance school work and TA work, but you can use your TA work to build your knowledge and professional development at the same time! It’s a semester of craziness, but one you will be grateful you took part in!