Five Benefits of Being a Teaching Assistant

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.

About the Author

Adam Shear is a senior broadcasting major at SUNY Oswego. He is heavily involved at WTOP 10, the campus TV station, where he is the Segment Director for news and directs two TV shows. Shear is also the executive producer of the popular talk show 4 Guys in a Booth on the campus radio station WNYO as well as a teaching assistant for BRC 108: Into to Mass Media and BRC 222: Intro to New Media. When he actually has some spare time, Shear enjoys everything from hanging out with friends to playing video games. You can follow Adam Shear on Twitter via @AdamShear where he tweets a lot about video games and sometimes about life.
Email: shear@oswego.edu
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