It feels as though we blinked and it is now the end of the semester, it is amazing how fast time has gone by. It has been a wonderful few months having the opportunity to work closely with Dr. Gurung and my fellow TAs. Before this semester I had not thought about pursuing the idea of becoming a TA, I honestly thought that it was geared more towards those who are looking to go into the teaching profession. It wasn’t until looking at the Psych Wanted ads, that the idea started to become plausible for me.
Over the course of our time working together I have learned quite a bit when it comes to teaching at the college level. With Dr. Gurung’s bi-weekly meetings, I was able to see the time and effort that professors put into their lectures. Originally I thought that they didn’t put a lot of time into creating a power point and that they were handed it from the publisher of the text. I was very wrong in this thought, it turns out that some professors do work hard on deciding what information to deliver to the class and how to go about doing so that it coincides with the learning outcomes of the Psychology Department. Ensuring that the students leave the class with having completed some developmental level and being better prepared for what lies ahead. I also learned more about how to present information to a class. Learning that the tone of voice, speed and movement of the professor is a conscious facet was something that was oblivious to me and I was surprised to find out that the small things such as this are taken into consideration when presenting information so the class is receptive towards it.
I also learned the ways of effectively using media sources in order to engage students, such as D2L and Facebook. This was something new to me and I really enjoyed how some students took it upon themselves to post information about current studies or ones that relate to class that week. Email was something else that I began to learn much more about, Dr. Gurung advised us to email our pods about once a week with small updates and reminders, and I feel that this helped the students to be better prepared for the upcoming week and to stay up to date with the syllabus and not fall behind. It was also a way for us to stay in close contact with our pods and to be that source for them to reach out to if anything were needed. Along with how to go about writing a proper exam question, I had no idea that there were proper guidelines that one should follow when creating an exam. During our process of writing questions, when taking into consideration the Teaching Tips advice, I made sure to think more deeply about the way I was forming my question and the answers. I discovered that all of the above and none of the above are answers that should never appear on an exam, which was something I did not previously know.
When looking back on my experience as a TA, the one thing I can say is how thankful I am for having had this opportunity. It was an amazing opportunity to not only learn about teaching, but to dive deeper into Psychology and to have the change to be an active part of a class.
Going into the semester, I was very apprehensive about what our expectations would be and what was going to be expected of us. In the beginning I thought that we would be doing more paperwork filing and doing secretarial work on the professor’s behalf, this was certainly not the case with Dr. Gurung. In the beginning it was mainly grading papers, which was something that was different from the role of student that I have grown so used to that in some strange way, ended up enjoying. Throughout my time as a TA, I enjoyed the ability of playing a more active role in the class setting. It was nice to be seen as a knowledgeable resource that the students could easily approach. I found students being more open to the idea of relaying information to us that they wished for Dr. Gurung to know, but were to afraid to do so. It was nice knowing that they could confide in us and reach out. Being a TA was a great learning experience for me, being “in control” of 40 or so students was a scary idea to me in the beginning of this. As the semester grew, I also learned to grow to appreciate my pod. The pod allowed us as a TA to be the single go-to for our students and not have to try and jump through many hoops to be heard and responded to. Along with holding review sessions for our pods allowed me the opportunity to grow closer to the students and start putting names to faces.
As the semester came to a close, we had the scary opportunity to give an Abnormal Psych lecture to the entire class. This to me was rather terrifying, seeing as how most presentations are for about 40 students or less, nowhere near the 250 of this intro course. However, I am glad that I was required to give the lecture in that it helped me learn more about how to communicate to such a large amount of people effectively. This also goes for the entire TA process, I learned so much about how to communicate with certain people and how to calm a storm. I will definitely take these learning’s with me as I advance my education to become a school counselor.