Jump to content

How important is it to modify your academic schedule around your TA assignment?


maelia8

Recommended Posts

I just received my TA assignment for next fall, a week after meeting with my advisor to confirm a seminar schedule for the term (I'm still in the coursework stage of my Ph.D.). Unfortunately, the course I'm assigned to TA for conflicts timewise with two of the three grad seminars I was planning on taking, and there is only one other grad course in my primary field that I can take next term (and none in my secondary field).

 

There are ways that I can work around this by taking the one other class offered in my field plus a course in my outside field, but it radically shifts my academic plans for next year. Is this serious enough to go to the administrator in charge of TA assignments and request reassignment? We were told only to do this for serious reasons, as it's very difficult for them to work out the TA schedule for over 100 grad students in my department, and impossible to make everybody happy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How big are these grad seminars? At my last department, there were about 100 grad students total and like you said, it's really hard to move TA appointments around. So instead, we move classes around. The first day of each course is usually a meeting between the prof and the students and we all decide what time to hold our lectures based on everyone's TA responsibilities and other classes (however, in the Canadian system, we only take 1 or 2 classes per semester and spread them out through our whole degree, so there's less room for conflicts).

 

So, would it be possible for you to contact the organizer of the two grad seminars that conflict with your TA assignment to see if they can be rescheduled? (In my field, classes might have 4-5 people in total so this might not be practical if like 30 people are taking this seminar).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are there any fellow TAs whom you could approach about a swap? It might be easier if - instead of going to the admin and asking them to shift everybody's TA schedules around - you find 1 TA who will agree to swap their assignment with you and then go to admin with that request. This depends on the nature of your TA assignment of course (in the sciences we have big lab courses with all the TAs teaching the same thing, just on different days and at different times).

 

As long as you phrase your request politely (and acknowledge that it isn't the end of the world if they can't grant you the request) it wouldn't hurt to ask the admin about the possibility of swapping. For all you know, another TA has a serious problem with their assignment and admin are already planning to move the TAs about, at which point they may even welcome a volunteer. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@TakuruK the seminars should have around 10-12 people in them, but I've never heard of a seminar time being changed to accommodate a student's TA schedule around here. I'll ask around to see if that's a thing that happens.

 

@St Andrews Lynx I will ask around, but folks around here tend to be pretty attached to their field-specific TA assignments and unless they have something they really hate teaching, they are unlikely to let go of it. There are actually always a few courses where they don't have a TA set yet at this point, so it would probably be best to go to the admin because she has access to the whole schedule and can let me know if anybody else approached her about switching. 

 

@fuzzylogician I'm working on it, but probably won't be able to see my advisor until Wednesday at the earliest (if that), so it might be necessary for me to take some action on my own before then.

 

Thanks for the advice folks, it's good to know I might have other options.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@maelia8--

Could you take one of the graduate seminars as a directed reading course?

Is your TA assignment for a lower division lecture course? If so, you might be able to convince your boss that you're familiar enough with the subject matter that you don't need to attend every lecture. You could sweeten the proposal by making it clear that you will know the course materials very well by August.

IRT the graduate course you might need to miss, explore the possibility of talking a directed reading version of class.

More generally, I recommend that you develop options before talking to an administrator. You might help your own cause if you know that a professor is going to accept plan B or C before you ask for the department's blessing.

Given where you are at, don't be too surprised if you are told "tough luck" and/or "yes" then "no." B is also for bureaucracy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Sigaba The thing is that the significant course in conflict is pedagogy, a requirement for all students that are beginning to teach next semester, so it's actually a pretty legit reason to ask for reassignment because it must be done "in person" and can't be a directed reading or independent study.

 

Unfortunately, the TA assignment is for an upper division course on a complex topic that I know pretty much nothing about (it's not even in my field), so I would need all the help I can get to be up to speed to teach it and I don't think that I could afford to skip half of the lectures even if I could get the professor to agree to a deal like that. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with above.  You in a special case where you are going to be a first year TA and you need that course in order to do your job.  They will have to accommodate you on that.  You can also e-mail the instructor of the pedagogy course to help you get this worked out.

 

Also, how much of an overlap is there between the pedagogy course and the TA class?  If it's about 30 minutes and the pedagogy course doesn't always run for the entire time, it might be possible to shift the start/end time.  We've done that for students who have classes right before their graduate seminars (we'd start 20 minutes later but finish before the end of allotted class time).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the advice folks, I've submitted a request for reassignment through the appropriate channels and now I just sit back and wait for others to accept or reject their assignments so that I can find out what's available.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.