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weymiller

TA a class that starts end of August but no information

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I know what class I'm TA and the schedule, but only because I had to email the department to find out.  I have never even talked to the Professor.  There is a TA training before classes start, but again I only knew about it from doing research on the school's webpage.  Is it normal to not have any information ahead of time?  I found the old webpage for last year's class and so I read a lot of the materials and readings, but only because I don't want to feel unprepared.  Yet I do.  Right now my class schedule is only Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I have a really long commute to school and I worry that last minute they might change my schedule.  Has anyone else heard anything about their classes.

 

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We had first TA meetings the week before classes start: I didn't even know what classes I TAed on the friday before and I started on Monday ! Don't worry about it.

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Can't you just email the professor you'll be TAing for? When I was just talking to a prof (before I accepted) about TAing I got the syllabus and all the info about it that they had. It was nice to know what I'd be getting into.

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I'm teaching in the fall, not TAing. I haven't made a syllabus yet for any of my classes. Don't worry!!!

 

Same. Don't worry -- you're already ahead of the students in the class and you'll do just fine. 

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Typically, prep for TA work starts in the week or two before class begins. Some schools don't even assign TAs until this time! You're fine :)

 

Each person's style would be different, but what works for me is to start on the course material about 1-2 weeks before the term begins (readings, assignments etc.). This way, I am always 1-2 weeks ahead of the class. I find that this helps me stay "fresh" with the material because I just recently went over it, and also it helps me stop myself from spending far more time on the course I'm TAing that I should be. And I think it also helps so that I can adjust e.g. problem sets to fit with the class ability as we go along, instead of setting everything in stone before I even know my students.

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TAing/teaching my own section of FYC, haven't heard anything other than training report date. I did get an email asking for my schedule last month, but that's about it.

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Don't worry boss, these things tend to come in late and sometimes last minute.

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Sounds pretty typical. For my MA program, they sent out our course manual a few weeks before class started. Then we had a 2 day meeting/orientation to learn about the classes we'd be teaching during the week before classes started. Up until then, it was pretty much radio silence on the TA front.

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I went out of my way and emailed the professors I knew I'd be working with- I was told who they would be when I was offered the TA position. I asked them if they needed anything at that point. One of them asked for my class schedule so she could see about trying to arrange times to have weekly meetings and the other professor said she'd get back to me.

 

It probably wouldn't hurt to check in with your professor if you know who it is, even if it's just to calm your anxieties and introduce yourself.

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Don't worry but be as proactive as possible. You want to end up working with the best mentoring professor available, in a course relevant to your interests, at a time that doesn't muck up your schedule. You may have a better chance getting that assignment if you lean forward rather than back.

But what ever you do, don't worry. There's plenty of time for that later.

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Good advice above! Breathe!

 

I have a summer TA-ship that technically started in July, and the prof didn't touch base with me until last week (it was to ask whether or not I'd be available to invigilate the mid-term, which was yesterday). I used to stress about the TA assignments, but now I try to take a cue from the prof or instructor as to how laid-back or not the TA post is.

 

I usually abide by some CYA (Cover Your Ass) principles. When I first get confirmation of an assignment, I'll e-mail the prof or instructor just to introduce myself, "I'm surefire and I belong to you to the tune of 120 hours for SuperFun101 next semester". That way, they have my e-mail and an opportunity to elaborate on the appointment, if they feel like it (again, some profs are overzealous and others are laid back). Mostly they'll e-mail back quickly to say, "Thanks. I'll be in touch". On some occasions a prof will e-mail me back to say something like, "Here are the names of other TAs in the course" or "I'm out of town for a conference in October, you'll guest lecture on that date, cool?"; and sometimes I get radio silence. If I don't hear anything, I'll send another e-mail a week or two before the course under the auspices of "checking in". Maybe I'll mention that I read their syllabus from last year, or give them my ID so they can add me to Blackboard, or mention the "hours allocation" form that they typically have to do that gives me a breakdown of the tasks. If I'm a bit concerned about what the appointment entails, I might say, "If I understand the structure of the course, the first task to be attentive to is the assignment due at the end of September", just to try and establish what the first expectation is - this gives them a chance to say, "Oh wait, actually, you're running office hours that start the second week", or something. In any case, I usually get a response at that point.

 

During my early TA appointments, I would sometimes ask students who had TA-ed for a prof before what the assignment was like. That would put me at ease and help me establish the "tone" of the prof. Eventually though, you get good at getting a read on profs and taking a cue from them - it gets easier, promise!

Edited by surefire

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