4.5. Suggestions From Good Teachers

Tips to TAs from Good Teachers

  1. Be professional. TAing a course is a professional job, and is an important part of the university's and department's mission. It is not just a way to earn money or something that might look good on a resume.
  2. Treat all students with respect and strive to help all of them to learn. All the students registered for the course have a right to be there -- not just the smartest or the most forthcoming or those whom you get along with best.
  3. Be enthusiastic! Let the students know you want to be there, and you want to work with them. Let them know that they're important and that you care about what they have to say and how they do in the class.
  4. Draw energy and enthusiasm from students who are engaged in the subject and then try to give back some of that to other students who are less engaged.
  5. Be realistic about how quickly students can pick up new material. You know more about the material than the students, so realize that even though it may be simple for you, it may not be easy for students learning it for the first time.
  6. Listen to what you're saying from the students' points of view and adjust accordingly. Because they have a very different experience and knowledge to draw on, what you say is not always what students hear.
  7. Prepare for class! It's not enough to be expert on a subject. You have to be able to teach the subject to others who are less interested, motivated, knowledgeable than you. That means you must carefully think through not only what you'll do in class but HOW you'll do it.
  8. Encourage questioning, both verbally and non-verbally. Help students ask the right questions. Model good questioning and answering.
  9. Get feedback from students to gauge whether what you are doing is effective or not.
  10. Don't rush to fill in the next segment of the class or move on to the next point. When you ask questions in class, wait several seconds for a response.
  11. If you don't know something, don't bluff. Admit you don't know and find out for the next class.