First off, I cannot believe how fast this semester has flown by. Even more so, I cannot believe how fast my career at UWGB has gone. I have really enjoyed my time as a TA and definitely learned more about the teaching profession than I would have thought.
In my past experience of working closely with professors, what goes into their lesson was never shared with me. I think I just took for granted the work that is put into their curriculum. To be completely honest, I did not think that professors spent much time critically thinking about each minute of their lecture and whether the learning outcomes are being reached. From conditioning the class with music, to using a different tone or speed of your voice to keep students’ attention, Dr. Gurung puts a large amount of time and effort into each of his lectures. I also did not ever consider how distracting it is to have people leave or talk to a neighbor during a lecture . I now view the use of a cellphone during a lectur as completely rude and a waste of the education that I am paying for. We have all had professors who we know do not put as much effort into their lectures, but I have gained a new respect for those professors who do.
I was unsure what would be expected of me as a TA. In the past I was a peer mentor and thought this would have been a similar role. However, from the start, I realized the two were very different. As a TA, I played a more ‘official’ role than a peer mentor. The students knew that we were their peers, but for the most part treated us with the same respect that I treat my professors. This was new for me. I enjoyed having the students look up to me and come to me with questions. This made me feel useful. I really like how we were assigned to our own pods. This gave the students one TA as their ‘go-to’ and also allowed us to get closer with the students in our pod. There was one student who needed some direction when it came to deciding her major and minors. She was so grateful for the few minutes I spent with her and for the advice that I gave her.
As a TA, I expected to be doing more clerical work than we did. This was a nice surprise. Grading the in-class exercises was not too taxing at all, especially since we were given access to the grade book on D2L.
One of my only critiques on the experience would be to begin the research project earlier. In the beginning of the semester, I felt that as a TA our workload was very light. Towards the end, we had the TA lecture and paper due dates relatively close together. This was also when all of my other classes began to pick up in the required workload. I think it would feel more relaxed if the TA’s were split up into the two groups at the beginning of the semester and started brainstorming paper ideas after the first month. During that time the TA’s would get a feel for the class and what topics they would be interested in researching.
On the most basic level, being a TA helped improve my communication skills. From needing to effectively communicate to about 40 students on a regular basis, to delivering part of a lecture, I feel I have grown in this aspect. Again, I am very happy I was given the opportunity to be a TA and believe this experience will prove to be useful in my future.