Before this semester, I had absolutely no interest in being a TA. I viewed the experience as something beneficial only to those interested in pursuing a teaching profession and as I have no interest in teaching (coupled with my avoidance of anything related to being in front of big crowds), I did not see a TA position as something that would be advantageous. As it turns out, I was able to learn a lot through this experience and I am grateful I took a chance on it. Not only did I learn valuable techniques for teaching, but many of the concepts were applicable to other areas of life, both professionally and personally.
In regard to teaching, it was intriguing to be able to experience the classroom dynamics from the perspective of the professor rather than the student. I was surprised by the elaborate and extensive preparation that went into planning, creating, and carrying out a lecture—though it is obvious that not all professors put in equal amounts of time and effort. I was initially doubtful, then later amazed, by how purposeful every action in class was and the evident impact it had on the class in general. From Dr. G, the various articles assigned, and especially through Teaching Tips, I was better able to understand the supporting evidence behind why professors do what they do when leading classes. Teaching Tips was particularly helpful for me personally, in considering how to increase participation in large groups, how to keep students engaged, the importance of letting students know that you can and value their individuality and opinions, and how to deal with certain situations. In addition, I learned more about the value of testing students in certain ways in order to ensure they get the most out of the class, rather than simply making the class easy or well liked. I have a greater appreciation for course learning outcomes and the intentions behind them and I value the perspective of professors wanting students to actually learn and apply the information from class versus memorizing it for an exam.
Through this experience, I was faced with several situations and circumstances that, though uncomfortable at the time, will ultimately benefit me in future endeavors. In addition, I was able to enhance a skill set that will be useful in various settings; I feel like I got an opportunity to work on further developing my communication skills as well as the skills needed to work well with others. Specifically, speaking in front of others—something that is extremely hard for me—exposed me to circumstances which I will inevitably face again in the future. In addition, being in the role of a TA, and being “in charge” of 40 students allowed me to improve upon my leadership skills. Being a TA was a rewarding experience that has helped me to evolve into a more well rounded student. In terms of better understanding processes in the classroom, honing skills useful in everyday life, and preparing me for future experiences, the TA position was definitely one worth taking.