Many students have sat in a class with a teaching assistant, or TA for short as they are commonly referred as. They are students who help professors with their duties both inside and outside of the classroom. Being a teaching assistant is a very interesting experience and one that has made me a smarter person in many different areas. I have been a teaching assistant for two courses over four semesters. Here are some interesting things I have realized upon reflecting on my time doing the job.
1. You Become a Mini Celebrity:
I’m a TA of 70-90 students over the course of a semester. After four semesters of doing this, I have met so many new people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Just about everywhere I go on campus, I either see a student I have or I get recognized by one.
Towards the beginning of each semester, I am bombarded by people I have never met before, asking me questions about what assignments are due the next day or other class related questions. I guess I kind of know what being famous is like. It’s a weird, but cool feeling when someone you don’t think you have ever seen before says hi and uses your name. It’s a hard task to memorize 70 faces and names, especially for the one class of 50 people I have. I usually know most names towards the second half of the semester.
2. Time Management Becomes Essential:
I always have a large stack of assignments to grade or attendance to log in. Balancing this job alongside classes and my other responsibilities on campus proved to be a huge challenge when I started the job. My drive to succeed forced me to learn how to have really good time management skills. If I told myself two years ago that I would finish class assignments at least a week before the due date, I would have laughed. Now, I sometimes don’t have a choice as my schedule fills up with grading and meeting up with students for extra help. I think these skills will really come in handy when I graduate and try to keep a good balance between work and my personal life.
3. Back to the Basics:
The classes I am a TA for are introductory classes. Being a broadcasting student, the classes are the foundations for the entire major. I attend every class and I have seen every lecture multiple times. It’s like the lyrics to a song that just keep repeating every semester. This has led me to make insights about what I’m studying that I would not have been able to make otherwise. Having a solid foundation of the basics has increased my understanding for more advanced topics within my major.
4. Fear of Public Speaking Vanishes:
I remember I use to shake with nervousness when stepping up in front of a crowd to speak. Throughout high school, I hated giving speeches. It made me so nervous. The public speaking class I took during my freshman year helped me with this fear a lot, but it was being a TA that gave me the large amount of practice I needed. My professor lets me teach at least one class per semester. Upon creating my lesson, I would practice it in front of my professor multiple times. He would not let me teach until my lesson was perfect. This gave me hours of public speaking practice I wouldn’t have received otherwise. Lecturing felt incredibly natural and as the semesters went on, I got used to speaking in front of a crowd.
5. I Became a Better Student:
Professors complain all the time about students not doing their work or not putting effort into their work. Being a TA has allowed me to experience the professor’s perspective for myself. Through grading papers, my writing skills, especially my grammar, improved significantly. When students aren’t trying, I can now sense it just like a professor can. This whole experience has made me realize what it means to be a good student and what it means to put effort and time into assignments rather then getting them over with at the last minute.
I do graduate in a little over a month and while I won’t be student for much longer, these skills are applicable to many other areas in life. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to be a teaching assistant.