Dilemma: Worst TA Ever!

On January 12, 2011, in Being a GA/TA, Dilemmas, by Candace Nast

A friend posted a status update on Facebook yesterday, calling himself the worst TA ever.
Rupsphoto © 2007 Vincent Teeuwen | more info (via: Wylio)
What could make someone think that?

Actually, it’s not that hard to imagine. There are a lot of things that make us think we should do better. It’s part of academia – we want to be good at things. Thing is, we all have bad days. And as academics, we’re trained in analysis (and meta-analysis). It’s hard not to be critical of yourself, but it is possible to examine the situation and learn from it. Even tenured faculty who’ve been teaching *forever* have bad days. (Shhh! they don’t want anyone to know!)

It could have been any number of things that got my friend down: things forgotten (like lesson plans), a classroom experiment that didn’t work out, a group that wouldn’t talk, a class where no one came prepared. Sometimes we get frustrated and act with (ahem) very strong emotions… It happens. It will be okay. You are not the worst TA ever.

If the goal is to become a better teacher, there are things you can do to make that happen. Reading about teaching and learning is one thing you can do; taking advantage of workshops in your campus Centre for Teaching and Learning is another. Asking more experienced teachers who are good at what they do can also help.

What other steps can a person take to take to make better teaching a reality?


4 Responses to Dilemma: Worst TA Ever!

  1. Melanie Santarossa says:

    Have someone you respect as a teacher (another GA or TA, a CTL staff, or a mentor) come to watch you teach. They can provide you with very helpful and up-to-date feedback, and even some praise.

  2. Melanie Santarossa says:

    Oh, and always ask your students for feedback too. They can share some pretty important insights on how the class was for them (which may or may not differ from your preception of it).

  3. Howard H. says:

    I used to think good teachers were born that way. Now I know that some of the best teachers had some pretty bad fails early on – that’s why they’re good now!

  4. AArti says:

    Excellent website. Lots of useful information here.
    I’m sending it to a few friends ans also sharing in delicious.
    And naturally, thank you in your effort!

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