For some reason, my mind has been thinking about TA-ing a lot. So here are some thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head.
- It’s your job. I’ve written about this before, but it’s still key to remember. You’re getting paid to TA, so you need to spend time and do your job to the best of your ability.
- It’s not your job to penalize students. This means, if you find out that a student plagiarized, or work is being handed in late, and the student comes to you to “fix” things, don’t fall for it. Always go to the prof first, and have them decide on a solution. That doesn’t mean you can’t explain your side, but, don’t make any deals with a student before discussing it with the prof.
- The prof is usually (but not always) right. Depending on where you did your undergrad, you may have been in an environment where you’re not suppose to ever question the prof. When you’re a TA, that’s not the case. Yes, you work for the prof. But, you need to be aware of what’s going on, and ready to tell the prof if something is wrong.
- Stand up for yourself. This is sort of a continuation of the above. If something is going on (you’re being over worked, there’s a glaring error, etc) tell the prof and be confident about it. Don’t let the prof use you. Yes, you’re “cheap labour” but, you’re also highly qualified labour.
- If there’s a problem, talk to the prof. This, for me, is the golden rule. If there’s something going on – the prof is wrong, you’re being overworked, etc – you need to tell the prof. If you’re not clear how to do something, or what you should be doing, talk to the prof. If in any doubt, talk to the prof.