on being a TA
I've seen several posts lately alluding to the fact that the academic year is nearly finished. My fellow bloggers are giving finals and looking forward to glorious "free" time outside the classroom.
We're just getting started. Again. I can't explain fully lest I give away my Uni, but we have an extremely odd schedule. Fall classes start very late, which pushes everything else back. We're not on semesters either, but quarters/trimesters.
Just a few weeks ago I got to try my hand at this thing we call "teaching." I have two lab sections of about 25 undergrads. Each lab runs for 3 hours. This is a very basic level course. I'm going to call it Biology 101. My classes are very mixed in terms of year in school as well as majors, though most of them are some type of science major.
Teaching the lab is a lot of running around and a lot of talking. I was exhausted after the first one. I refused to just give away answers, trying to peel back from the initial question to see if any underlying knowledge existed. I take my knowledge for granted and I need to be very careful not to rush as I review the material.
I'm enjoying myself though. Very time consuming, however. All the TAs have a weekly prep meeting so that we can see the lab exhibits before we have to teach them. We're required to hold office hours. We'll be doing the exam grading, as well as grading two reports per student. My prep time is much higher than I expected because I want to be prepared for every question. I've never taught anything before! I imagine that if I taught this same class again my prep time would be considerably shorter.
All things considered my week is pretty much useless for research things until Wednesday afternoon, and by then I usually want a nap. My PI is very understanding of the whole thing, which is nice. Thankfully he's had other students TA before and he realizes not much else gets accomplished. I'm just glad I don't need to TA for my research funding. I'd be here forever!