Noomm

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I'm going to be a TA for the first time starting this fall. Do you guys have any good advice?
 
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There's no such thing as a good TA...


I kid (kinda). Try to grade fairly and consistently. Don't be afraid to ask the professor if you aren't sure about something. Being a good tutor requires patience and an ability to empathize, so practice as much as you can.
 

Gibbward

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Lab TA? Just be friendly and approachable. Try to chat with the students when there's down time, and routinely walk around and ask the students if they're doing okay and if they need any help. Make sure you read what experiment you're doing beforehand so you know what to expect, what kind of questions students might ask, etc.
 
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JulioJones

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Don't be afraid to say you don't know something, if you're asked a hard question and can't answer don't BS and hope you help them, tell them you'll look it up and get back to them, they'll appreciate it!
 

Noomm

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Lab TA? Just be friendly and approachable. Try to chat with the students when there's down time, and routinely walk around and ask the students if they're doing okay and if they need any help. Make sure you read what experiment you're doing beforehand so you know what to expect, what kind of questions students might ask, etc.
Nah it's for a molecular biology class (not a lab). So basically I'm going to be TA'ing a discussion session once a week for an hour and hold office hours once a week (also for an hour).

Do you guys know if, as a TA, there is an acceptable way of asking the professor what they'll test on? I want to focus my teaching in a way that is most beneficial to students. But I know that as a student the professor is very dismissive of questions like that - I've had lots of professors just say "everything that's in the lecture" and then when you open up the test you realize they were being very disingenuous.
 

md-2020

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Nah it's for a molecular biology class (not a lab). So basically I'm going to be TA'ing a discussion session once a week for an hour and hold office hours once a week (also for an hour).

Do you guys know if, as a TA, there is an acceptable way of asking the professor what they'll test on? I want to focus my teaching in a way that is most beneficial to students. But I know that as a student the professor is very dismissive of questions like that - I've had lots of professors just say "everything that's in the lecture" and then when you open up the test you realize they were being very disingenuous.
When I TA'd econ courses the profs were generally very open and helpful to working w/ me in regards to test material, what I should cover in review sessions, etc. I think having a short sit down before your review sessions would be totally beneficial and most appropriate.
 

GrapesofRath

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By far the biggest thing I've learned TAing is people learn when they explain things to you more than when you just force feed information to them. Have people try and walk through problems and explanations with you guiding them rather than you forcing the answer down their throats and ask them "does this make sense". If you are TAing review sessions have people come up to the board and do problems(and yes call on random people to answer questions when necessary). Interactive learning is what counts. Having a friendly positive and fun environment where people aren't afraid to laugh and ask questions in review sessions is what makes all the difference.

As for review sessions themselves, identify topics that people most commonly make mistakes in or are weak at. I always made a list of the 3 things I always had the most problems with/made the most stupid mistakes on and went over them in class. Getting a hold of old exams and going through them is something you at least have to try and do.
 
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Don't assume something is easy, just because you didn't have a hard time with it - that can make people feel pretty dumb very quick. When I TA-ed I'd make quizzes (not graded) that students could complete either alone or in groups and we'd go over the questions together. All too often students will look at a completed example problem, or watch you solve a problem and think "Oh yea I can do that, no problem." Its another story when they get a blank piece of paper in front of them with questions they have to solve.
 

SmurfingReviews

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Just be prepared to do all the things that are on the assignments that are given to the students. You don't have to do them beforehand, but the chances are that they will ask you about it or answers on it would be pretty high. So if you know your stuff and can convey your message across well you'd be straight.
 
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AlteredScale

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I'm going to be a TA for the first time starting this fall. Do you guys have any good advice?
When I TA'd at UCSD I tried to do my best to provide the information in multiple ways (visual, verbal, writing) in the 50 minutes we had to teach per week. I would always try to set aside 10-15 minutes to work through problems with the group so that they could apply what I had just shown them. Additionally, the problems I provided always contained information from previous material.

Always do your best to respond to your students in a timely manner.

The week before the exam, inform them that you will take questions up until the day of the exam. This helped tremendously with my own stress of being in lab and taking classes. They'll understand.

Be light-hearted and easy to converse with. No one likes a bland, boring TA.

Good luck!
 

panda16

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Don't BS your way to an explanation if you don't know the answer. Instead, refer them to people who actually do, whether it is another TA or the instructor.

Source: my own experience as a stats TA when I'm not the best at stats and was hired as a grader
 

Lucca

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legit though there are so many people who do this and its kinda disturbing
A number of my (female) friends have been asked out by TAs immediately after the semester ended. The thirst is real yo.

Just make sure you look over the homework before hand so you know what kind of questions will come up. Be nice.
 
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Spector1

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Emphasize that you are available to help your students

never say anything is easy

admit when you don't know the answer

Don't rely on the solution key, do the problems yourself so that you can understand and teach your students

Follow along with the course material. Don't be passive like a lot of TA's who just only show up for section and office hours but don't know whats going on in the course.
 
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Sometimes, you'll think you've explained something pretty clearly, but no one will have actually understood what you've said, and you might not have a clue. So, every time I give an explanation, I like to ask a question that requires an understanding of the explanation I just gave to solve a simple problem. If people are able to solve the problem, then I know I've done my job of explaining decently. If people can't apply the knowledge I just shared to solve the problem, then I have to figure out why that's the case: (was there too much information to absorb all at once, did i fail to clearly explain a connection between two ideas, was the problem that i gave too hard given the depth of my explanation?, etc)
 
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Strudel19

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I've only TA'd classes that I've taken before, so I knew what was going to be tested. Being friendly and being myself was the most helpful. If you're approachable, you'll see students' hands going up left and right and things just kind of worked themselves out from there. I didn't have to dig information out of them because the questions kept coming.
 

Noomm

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My advice: if a student sticks his/her head above the crowd for any reason other than actual excellence (can't really blame students for getting 100's and being proud of it), elevate that student.
I don't understand what you mean by this. From the context, I assume you meant something like "reprimand" rather than "elevate"?
 
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Noomm

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No I was thinking something like a Whack-a-Mole game. Head goes up *bop* elevated back down to the rest.
Is... is today opposite day?
 
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