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Typical for a TA?


wishingforPHD
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The school I am attending in the fall offered me a teaching assistantship that has me teaching an Intro class. My program is very interdisciplinary, so I am actually teaching in American Studies, even though I will be attending their Women's Studies Program. The problem is that the American Studies staff has been less than helpful in getting me ready for the fall. I had to send multiple emails just to get them to send me some basic information (class time, policies for ordering books, etc.) But so far there has been no help or guidance in planning the curriculum or figuring out the logistics. Is this normal? Is it too early for the department to start thinking about these things? Or, am I supposed to be doing this completely on my own?

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I've been offered a GTA too but I have no idea what I'm supposed to teach. My ug degree is in physics and I have no background in Psychology (not enough to be teaching even an introductory course but I guess I can manage if required). However, I think they plan to have me assist a professor by grading/handing out assignments, etc and not actual teaching. This was what they'd implied in some initial correspondences with them. Thanks for reminding me though.. I'll contact them and ask for more details!

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Chill out. You're not teaching the course by yourself. Remember when you were an undergrad? The semester usually starts slooowwwwlly and TAs don't usually do much at the beginning. Be ready to work your ass off around midterm season, and near the finals though... When you get there in the fall, you'll meet the prof who is teaching the course, s/he will give you the books or tell you how to order them, and will tell you what will be expected of you.

You're not the first one to go through this. Don't be too pushy with the administrative staff before you even get there. They are the people you really have to be nice to.

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The school I am attending in the fall offered me a teaching assistantship that has me teaching an Intro class. My program is very interdisciplinary, so I am actually teaching in American Studies, even though I will be attending their Women's Studies Program. The problem is that the American Studies staff has been less than helpful in getting me ready for the fall. I had to send multiple emails just to get them to send me some basic information (class time, policies for ordering books, etc.) But so far there has been no help or guidance in planning the curriculum or figuring out the logistics. Is this normal? Is it too early for the department to start thinking about these things? Or, am I supposed to be doing this completely on my own?

1) Find out if there is a course coordinator that oversees the course. I'd imagine that there is since you are likely not the only person teaching Intro to American Studies. If there is, you should be directing your questions at this person, rather than the administrative staff. Remember, it's not the staff's job to oversee how you teach your course.

2) If you do need to order a textbook, you'll want to do it soon, to make sure the bookstore has time to get it for students. Alternately, you can assign chapters from books and journal articles, which could eliminate the need for a book.

3) Honestly, in my department, when you're assigned a course, it's your course. If you're instructor of record, then you're in full control of the syllabus, the readings, etc., just as you would/will be when/if you are a professor teaching courses. Do they help you figure things out? Not really. But they do handle textbook ordering at the bookstore for us and make sure we have a classroom that will meet our needs in terms of audiovisual equipment. Everything else is the instructor's responsibility.

Honestly though, I wouldn't freak out about it. I'm just finishing teaching a summer course. I made my syllabus about 5 days before class started. No one seems to be complaining about that.

What kind of logistics are you hoping to get help with?

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Chill out. You're not teaching the course by yourself. Remember when you were an undergrad? The semester usually starts slooowwwwlly and TAs don't usually do much at the beginning. Be ready to work your ass off around midterm season, and near the finals though... When you get there in the fall, you'll meet the prof who is teaching the course, s/he will give you the books or tell you how to order them, and will tell you what will be expected of you.

You're not the first one to go through this. Don't be too pushy with the administrative staff before you even get there. They are the people you really have to be nice to.

Thanks everyone for your helpful information, maybe I am just stressing over nothing. But maybe I should have been clearer in my initial post. I am teaching this class by myself, there is no prof teaching the course giving me papers to grade, its all me. What stressed me the most is that my advisor sent an email to all first year phds telling us that we should have been contacted by our departments by now, and I hadn't. But I will chill, for now, and try to enjoy my summer.

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