THS Posted September 12, 2019 Share Posted September 12, 2019 (edited) Hi all! I am a PhD student in the Social Sciences. I am a very experienced GTA as both a TA role and an instructor role. I've taught independently 7 times and TA'd 5 times (2 of those I had independent recitations). I've never had any issues or problems-I've only gotten good reviews previously from both students and profs I've worked for but this term doesn't feel like its going so well. This term I was assigned to TA and it has been super weird. The prof isn't giving tests or papers- just using TopHat for some in class assignments and Perusall for readings. All I have to do is make sure grades get put from tophat into blackboard and I originally was supposed to be moderating Perusall/gathering the main themes and e-mailing them to by 8am the morning of class. Simple enough and not a ton of work-- yay and a score for a term where I am trying to finish my comps. Here's the problem. She has now asked me to 1) not give my assessment or interpretation of the main themes from the students Perusall, just their verbatim quotes because "she doesn't have time and it is too much" ok- so I'll just give her some random out of context quotes...that isn't an issue but--and 2) to no longer engage with the students not just on Perusall but through e-mail, talking, or comments in assignments I grade. Basically, I've been told not to speak to students. Previously she had wanted me to comment and make sure I answered questions/kept their reading comments on track. This came after I redirected a student who went on a rant about illegal immigrants on a reading about housing segregation in the USA- trying to get her to at the minimum use a less offensive term "undocumented" and also to only use facts relevant to the readings- I also provided a couple sources to help educate the situation (she went on a safety net rant) and to redirect the comment thread in that part of the article. The student replied with a crazy reply- I showed the professor the reply and what I could have responded with (a point by point answer) but that I thought it was too long and might be better if she addressed it because the student didn't care what I had to say/wasn't going to listen to it and would probably just be upset if I said anything in response at all. The response I got was what I shared above with the only explanation given being that she wants to set the tone. I probably could have handled the first post a little better- been more specific (but I have to wake up at 5am to get these done by 7am when she wants the report and their readings aren't due til 6 so a lot of them do these late at night) so I was quick and brief and kept reading to answer other student questions/make sure everyone was on track and understanding the readings... After I included my concern about some of the somewhat racist posts that happened in the reading to the prof and she was ok with how I had handled it and said she wasn't sure what she wanted to do long term. I am concerned that 1) she doesn't want me to engage with students and hasn't told me why- it makes me think she thinks I did something way out of line and 2) that she is going to blindside me with something crazy on my eval that will mess me up in my program. She isn't on my committee/I don't work with her but I am just super confused by the way she is handling the situation because she's just asked me to stop doing things she told me to do as part of my job and didn't communicate why- especially when in one area I asked her to tell me how she would handle it. Everyone in the social sciences knows we deal with these kinds of situations sometimes and they are HARD so it is nice when you are in a TA role to see how they would handle it- just being told to not talk to any students- at all- doesn't feel like helpful or useful feedback. Did I do something wrong? How would you guys fix it? I am totally freaking out right now/I don't want this to destroy my reputation in my department so close to finishing and going on the job market/needing recs. I'll add I am a POC so I am additionally worried that she thinks I am being over sensitive or something (so much anxiety now- I don't think I am but I think it is an important factor in this given the problem is students racism whether intentional or accidental because of their background). Edited September 12, 2019 by loves2hike Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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