Being a TA is not easy. Uh uh, not easy at all I'm telling you. You have the responsibility to manage a class of rowdy undergrads who ask questions like "ok, now what do I type?" hoping for you to give them the answer. When you know that you're just a couple of years older than them, and when they know that they can get away making cheeky comments by making you laugh its tough.
People who know me won't really call me a strict person. I'm fairly talkative, lots of fun(at least I like to think so), like to go out with friends and party and do all the student-ey stuff.(which makes it weird when I see my students at the bars near school. I just turn away before they see me) So when I have to change my role to an instructor and go into the lab and yell for them to keep quiet, I'm actually secretly marveling at my no nonsense tone and wondering where on earth that voice was hiding all this while. (I sometimes wear my glasses to class for extra effect).
My friends from my college days couldn't believe that I was going to be a TA in the physics lab of all places. My news was met with a lot of "HAHAHAHA! YOU AA?" too "ooh , I wish I had a teacher like you ;-) " and all kinds of comments. I took it in my stride and laughed along. For the first few lab sessions I was a bit nervous wondering how I was going to handle twenty five freshmen college kids a section. And 4 sections at that. It was not so bad after all. There were the geeky kids, the slow ones, the cheeky ones and it was a fun experience.
This took me back to MY 1st semester Physics lab class in college. Where my professor Mr Ponnusamy would refer to everyone - even us girls - as 'thambi' which means 'younger brother in Tamil. I know. Go figure. Needless to say, his yelling across the lab 'thambi thambi lab coat enge pa?' was met with confused faces all around. I was like 'err are you talking to me? from which angle do I look like a thambi to you?'
We would try and manipulate readings which we did not get so that we could leave the lab early, finish pre lab in our observation 5 minutes before the session starts so we would not get thrown out. The usual stuff, nothing the profs dint know we did. And they let it pass.
Maybe it was because of this that I could see through fake readings in my lab and send the student back to complete it properly. Yes. I know. Me. I did that. =) no student was going to fool me. HA.
Why am I blogging about this again? The course Evaluations had come out today and I have to share a few comments by my students.
"Neha was a great instructor. She helped me when I had trouble within the labs."
"The professor would help when the class was having trouble and did not have a problem explaining things step by step on difficult tasks"
"Great TA! She made lab simple and easy to understand.The instructor was good."
So all that grading and teaching lab for 4 hrs and AFTER that attending my own 3 hr lectures seems worth it after all =)