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Contacting profs before the semester


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Hi all!

I'll be entering my program in the fall and will be TAing for a prof's large-ish class in the first semester. I won't be teaching a discussion section, but I'll be responsible for grading, administrative work, and holding office hours. I'll also be the sole TA (though there will be another grader).

This will be my first semester as a TA, so I'm wondering about the etiquette around building a working relationship with the prof. This guy is also teaching a seminar I'll be taking in the fall, so I know I'll be seeing a lot of him and will want to do what I can to keep things positive and smooth. 

So, I guess my main question is: If you're the lead or sole TA for a course, is it more appropriate to actively reach out to the prof. before they reach out to you? As in, send an email introducing yourself and saying you're looking forward to working with them. Or is it better to wait for them to take the lead? I want to be proactive, but I don't want to seem pushy. Obviously, it's the middle of the summer, so I'm not thinking about contacting this person now with some sort of "WHEN CAN I SEE THE SYLLABUS?!?" email. And there will be a few days of TA training leading up to the semester, so this stuff may get covered there. But I'm worried that if I wait 'til that point, I'll have already missed the proactive boat.


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Why don't you simply write to introduce yourself? Say you just learned you're TAing for him, that it's your first semester TAing, and you're wondering if there is anything you should do now (or over the summer) to prepare. Keep in mind that professors have variable availability over the summer and you may not get a quick response, but you have nothing to lose. For what it's worth, I never contact my TAs ahead of time and I would not be able to provide a syllabus this early on (and maybe not in mid-August either, I might get to teaching prep last minute -- the summer is my time to work on my own research!). But then there's also basically nothing my TAs would need to do in advance, either. 

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