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Never TA'd before... think I am going to puke
Posted 09 April 2012 - 11:55 PM
Posted 10 April 2012 - 12:07 AM
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Accepted as a quasinontraditional international applicant.
Posted 10 April 2012 - 03:04 AM
Any tips, advice, etc. from anyone on how to get over this would be so so appreciated!
You just do it. It gets easier the more practice you have. The first semester is a little rough (you'll probably learn more than the students do), because you're just trying to find your groove. Don't take the assessments to heart (if they are bad)--you'll get better. If you don't know the answer, there's no shame in saying, "I don't know offhand, but I'll find out." You're not expected to know everything, but chances are you'll know more than your students. My first teaching experience was teaching English to 30 students and I didn't have a Master's degree in it. It is intimidating, but I'd suggest you search online for good tips. I like to play games during some discussion sessions (think Jeopardy), or bring in relevant YouTube clips to help start discussion. Most students seem to appreciate when you don't have the same lecture style every week, because it's not as boring. :-)
This week I have to lecture to 70 students on a subject I know nothing about. I'm not sweating it. (This comes after 5 years of teaching.)
Sociology: UW-Madison, Yale, Notre Dame, UCSD, Purdue, Emory
Anthropology: CUNY, Indiana, MIT (HASTS)
Religion: Chicago Divinity, Harvard, Brown, UCSB
Posted 10 April 2012 - 03:11 AM
Posted 10 April 2012 - 08:36 AM
Side Effect: You will feel annoyed about TAing.
Admitted: Texas A&M University
(lol, yeah...only applied to one school)
Posted 10 April 2012 - 09:51 AM
I have never TA'd before, I hate presentations, I hate public speaking. Starting a PhD was therefore a natural choice I don't want to be beaten by my fears, but I know that I will be a sessional instructor starting from the second year of my PhD (I only WISH I got to TA by marking papers, taking a few seminers... but oh no, its the full works for me) not only that, I will be teaching English.. which would be fine, but my undergrad and masters were both in film and broadcasting. Bazinga. I therefore feel nervous AND ignorant. I am sure everyone gets nervous, but my jitters are all ready ramping up and its not even going to happen for a year or so - my nerves get to the point where its borderline panic attacks. Super lame. I've heard the stats about how more people fear presenting than death, I know my feelings are all 'fight or flight' instincts, but this knowledge doesn't seem to stop the wiggly leg, blushing face, wobbly voice and waves of blank brain/stupidity that keep washing over me... Any tips, advice, etc. from anyone on how to get over this would be so so appreciated!
You got some good advice above. Thought I'd share the experience of my first day as a TA. It was my first teaching job, for a computer lab. I had it all planned nicely in my mind... and then my PhD supervisor decided to stay in the lab while I was explaining things at the blackboard (he normally doesn't)! I freaked out. I realized right then that I wasn't clear, that what I was saying probably didn't make much sense to the students, but I just couldn't get back to the plan I'd made. It was awful.
As I gained more teaching experience, things got better though. Now, 5 years later, I could TA with anyone in the room, and I'm okay with not being able to answer some questions right away, or with knowing that a class didn't go as well as I wished.
Tip: Try not to puke in the class. THAT first impression might be harder to change.
Edited by go3187, 10 April 2012 - 09:54 AM.
Posted 10 April 2012 - 08:24 PM
Two things I've found to be extremely helpful:
1- Delay the worrying until it's time for it. It's hard to do at first, but if you practice, I've found this be so helpful in more than just teaching (especially if you tend to panic a lot in general). Think to yourself, I will give myself a full week's worth of worry time (think of all the hours you'll have) prior to my first class, and then I can do the whole panic thing at liberty.
2- Tackle your worry through preparation. It's fear of the unknown and of being judged by students as a terrible TA. Think of the worst TA you've ever had. S/he was probably meh, but it wasn't exactly that horrible. This will probably be the absolute worst that can happen, which isn't too bad. And it won't happen, because you'll prepare everything and visualize it well before your first class, and have some notes of what to do and cover handy to guide you through those first few lessons till you get your footing .
Let me tell you, once those first few classes are behind you, it gets so much easier. I think nothing of it now when I walk into a class.
Just keep thinking to yourself: I'm awesome, and I can be great at this.
Round 2 - Applied:
UW, VT, RPI, UMCP, CU-B, ASU, NCSU.
Accepted: RPI, NCSU, CU-B, VT, ASU
Posted 12 April 2012 - 04:06 AM
Posted 13 April 2012 - 02:59 PM
Also, it may help to remind yourself that you are not going to ruin anyone's educational experience. The worst that can happen is that you might bore some people. If you set your standards of self-expectation low, it'll be easier for you to achieve those standards and beyond. Low expectations are better than crippingly, panic-inducingly high ones.
Best of luck!
Mostly having to do with issues of grad school survival :-)
Posted 15 April 2012 - 06:02 PM
I also think that failure isn't a death sentence at all. Your school might have the students do evaluations like they do with professors, but they often do not matter at all. You won't get kicked out of your program for not being the best TA.
Posted 16 April 2012 - 05:46 AM
Someone said above to "Be annoyed with teaching" and though this sounds weird, it kind of works! When you are scared of teaching it is mainly because you feel inadequate. I can remember that was what I went through my first day! But as I became more comfortable it did sort of become annoying - because in a weird way it means that you are totally comfortable with it. Been there, done that you know?
And be yourself. Show the kids how awesome "fill in field here" is. You obviously think it is because you chose to go to grad school for it! 90% of my TA evals mentioned how my enthusiasm for biology was contagious and how it made class so fun for them. And most of all remember YOU are the boss. It's like wild animals, they are probably more afraid of you then you are of them! Good luck!
Posted 16 April 2012 - 02:35 PM
I have never TA'd before, I hate presentations, I hate public speaking. Starting a PhD was therefore a natural choice I don't want to be beaten by my fears, but I know that I will be a sessional instructor starting from the second year of my PhD (I only WISH I got to TA by marking papers, taking a few seminers... but oh no, its the full works for me) not only that, I will be teaching English.. which would be fine, but my undergrad and masters were both in film and broadcasting. Bazinga.
Hey are you teaching English language or English language literature? If the former, I can certainly give you specific tips. I've been teaching English (language) in total for about a year now, and I can certainly remember my first days and the anxiety associated with it. Although maybe I did not fear it as much as you, I would sweat through two shirts for each 45 minute class. Now I hardly need to prepare anything and am totally confident about the whole thing. Whatever the subject is exactly, just tell yourself how incredibly awesome you are for being in grad school and having such an opportunity. And some small advice for questions you are not so sure of--stop for a moment, make a "thinking face" (so that they know you are thinking) and answer indirectly (if you still are not sure). Otherwise, don't be afraid to not know the answer immediately! It's just teaching. One of my mentors always told me not to be nervous in front of the class--there are people right now shooting at each other with guns; we are just standing in front of some people. The world doesn't end if you have a bad class.
Posted 27 April 2012 - 06:46 AM
Going to second this, mostly. I know that I was afraid of TAing because I thought the undergrads would be judging me the way my peers, and faculty, would be judging me. Nope! They don't know much about your topic and that's why they are taking the class. And most of the time they are at least mildly interested in it. You get a few people who are miserable and don't want to be there, but most of the students in my experience have at least some desire to take the course. Although I have to disagree with the last part - it really depends on where you are, but I TA at a university where the culture is to question everything. So the students ask lots of questions even in a 180-person lecture class. But their questions are elementary and pretty easy to answer. Sometimes I can't answer them, but I'll just give them a thoughtful look and say "You know what, I don't know. But I'll find out for you." And then follow up.
Posted 28 April 2012 - 03:37 PM
Edited by Eddie Kant, 28 April 2012 - 05:05 PM.
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