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TA Scheduling Conflicts


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I will be starting a doctoral program this fall and I've been assigned to TA for a class which lecture time conflicts with my course schedule. I emailed the professor about this and he basically said, "It'll work it out." I also have to teach 3 discussion sections a week. 


--Is it possible to teach discussion sections without attending the lectures? I'm struggling to see how this would be done.


--I received an email, along with 4 other students, informing us to coordinate with each other to figure out our TA discussion section times. There are not enough section times for each of us to teach 3 sections alone; is it normal for more than one TA to teach the same section? how would this work? Also, 3 out of the 4 other TAs are at least second year students. Should I wait for them to contact me about the section times since they might know what they're doing?


--When they say "3 discussion sections", do they mean the same class that meets 3 times a week? Or 3 different groups of students each week? I went to a fairly small liberal arts school where we didn't have this discussion section business.


Since I haven't even started school yet, all of this is a little hard to conceptualize. I've never taken a class with a TA before, so I don't even really understand the expectations or what its like at all. I'm very confused !





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Contact the other TAs for answers to your questions that apply to your department. We can only give you vague answers that may or may not fit in your case. In general, teaching three discussion sections means that you teach three different groups of students once a week each, not one group for three hours (normally, at least). It happens that more than one TA will teach a section at the same time. Some times of day are more popular with students than others. As for the scheduling conflict, I'd consult the other TAs and ask if this has happened before and how they would suggest going about working it out. Also ask about expectations and requirements, they can help you understand what your department expects much better than we can.

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In some grad programs, if the grad classes are small (<10 people), sometimes the grad class might just be rescheduled in order to make sure everyone's schedule works out. In many of my previous classes, we might meet on the first week and basically decide our own class time, putting priority on avoiding conflicts with TA duties, then avoiding conflicts with group meetings, and finally avoiding personal conflicts. 

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