Holy crapples, this is fantastic.
I think they should have assigned this as required reading to all first-year grad students who had to TA as part of their funding, and then made them re-read it at the beginning of every subsequent year so as not to forget important stuff. It’s also still relevant as an instructor. At least, most of it.
“Many instructors assume that students will read what is handed to them; I think this is incorrect.”
Oh my god, yes. This wasn’t something I ever did as a TA, but as an instructor (both at UI and U of C), I like to take time during the first lecture to actually go over the syllabus and any other important hand-outs. I particularly like to do this in the form of a PowerPoint so that I can really focus on the big things. I think it really helps emphasize what’s important to the students rather than making them wade through a two- or three-page document that includes a little information on every aspect of the class.
“People never learn course material as well as when they have to explain it to others.”
U of C has a thing up here for their 200-level stats classes called “continuous tutorial.” This is kind of like drop-in homework help where a TA staffs a computer lab for an hour, and during that hour students from STAT 213 and STAT 217 can drop in, work on homework, and ask questions of the TA if they have them. During my first continuous tutorial, I botched the hell out of a really simple probability question while helping a student. It wasn’t because I didn’t know how to do that type of problem, but because I hadn’t done that type of problem in quite some time, I blanked on the very simple solution and really confused the student. Brilliant, right? It is super important, both as a TA and as an instructor, to actually work through the homeworks assigned to the students and make sure you know how to do them. Because there’s not a lot of things more embarrassing than blanking on a question covering a subject that you supposedly know well enough to teach to the students.
“To me, motivating means addressing the history, culture, and usefulness of mathematics.”
LAKJSDFLASKFJALKF ASDFYADJFSDJ YES YES YES YES YES YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES
If you can put the topic into some sort of “non-computational” context, I think students are apt to be more open to it, approach it with less fear, and maybe even get excited about it. This is such an important idea to me, you have no idea.
So I picked up all my TA evaluations a few days ago because the department gets rid of them once you’ve graduated and I wanted to make sure I picked them up before I forgot to do so.
Anyway, today I feel like useless garbage (I mean, even more so than normal), so I decided to get a little ego boost from the reviews. These are my favorite comments.
- “Best TA I’ve had”
- “I feel like she can teach better than prof”
- “I have nothing but amazing things to say about her”
- “She could easily be a professor”
- “It is evident that she cares about students’ success”
- “Claudia has helped and taught me more than any of my other teachers”
- “Very friendly and welcoming and is good at creating a fun environment for learning”
- “Goes through questions and tells you information that not even the prof mentions”
- “She is very, very good (better than my prof)”
- “Should be offered a job should the need arise”
- “One of the best TAs I’ve had over my 4 years”
- “I found her lab sessions and office hours were highly beneficial to my learning (even better than the lectures)”
- “She is a very good teacher, gifted at it even”
- “Learned better from her labs than lectures”
- “She is the bomb”
Hello, faithful readers!
So I just checked my mailbox at school and I found in it a letter from the dean of the Faculty of Science. Turns out, I won the Fred A. McKinnon Award for being “the best Graduate Student TA in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.”
I get to go to the Faculty of Science awards of excellence reception on the 15th, which is pretty freaking cool.
Now if I can only get a teaching job…
I got another TA award! Yay! I got one for fall 2014; this one is for fall 2015 (they just announced it, though, haha).
I think the reason I didn’t get one in Winter 2015 was because I had only like 8 people in my lab the day I ended up handing out the little review forms, and I don’t think it was a big enough sample for them to even count it (their reasoning is that if there are too few people filling it out, those people can be more easily identified, and the survey is supposed to be anonymous).
Why THE SHIT is 7 PM – 9 PM a valid time slot for a final exam? And why is it on the second-to-last day of finals week?
Oh well. Better to invigilate a final exam than take one, I guess.
Edit: So Scott and I decided to just stay on campus after the final and grade his section of STAT 217 tests. We were there until about midnight, haha. But at least they’re graded now so we won’t have to do them after we grade all the STAT 213 tests tomorrow.
It’s summer session, which means it’s time for me to be a TA again!
Actually, this semester it’s a little bit different. One of the professors I’m TA-ing for was one I TA-ed for last semester. He knows I want to be a stats teacher at some point and seemed to like the job I did last semester, so this semester he’s letting me basically teach a fourth day of class in place of the lab I was supposed to run.
Which is super snazzy.
I’m also TA-ing for a new class, but it’s a lower-level one than the others, so it shouldn’t be so bad.
I have an exciting life, huh?
Hey, so it turns out that I won a Graduate Assistant Teaching Excellence Award for my TA work last semester. Snazzy!
Actually, I think I was the last person to find out I was one of the
five six winners, considering the fact that an email regarding the awards was sent out last week to everyone but me, haha. I only found out once someone said congratulations to me and I had to ask, “For what?”
Also, Multivariate Analysis looks like it’s going to be awesome. We indeed get to do factor analysis. Expect nothing but joyful screeching that week.
Edit: I guess all the other four winners are from pure/applied math. I’m the only one from stats. Badass!
Edit 2: holy crap, I get $600 as part of that award? Badass!
Well, sort of.
Today was the first day of labs, which for me meant running two hour-long labs for the intro stats class here. While today was basically teaching them how to open/use Minitab and how to access their online assignments, in future labs will involve going over concepts taught in class and/or helping them prepare for the midterms.
Not the same as teaching my own class, but it’ll do. Explaining stats is like my favorite thing to do anyway.
SORRY I’M SO BORING HAVE A PICTURE OF THE CALGARY TOWER INSTEAD:
Dear undergraduates of the world:
So there’s this cool little invention I’d like to tell you all about, ‘cause I think it could really improve your life and the lives of those around you. It’s called a staple and it’s here to reinvent the idea of a cohesive set of homework pages belonging to a single individual.
Let me lead you now through the thought process of an overworked TA as they truck through the grading of 100+ intro stats assignments.
1:23 AM: Only ten more assignments to go, this shouldn’t take much longer!
1:24 AM: Oh look, this group of papers is held together by a folded corner. What genius thought that type of binding would hold up being shoved around in a box with 200 other assignments?
1:24 AM: Surprise surprise, there’s only a name on the first sheet.
1:24 AM: And the sheets are all done in different colors of pen (seriously, this really happens).
1:27 AM: Now that I’ve wasted precious minutes making sure the handwriting looks similar enough across the pages to assume that they came from the same individual, let’s get down to grading.
1:31 AM: Handling grading this with the key would be much more streamlined if these pages were all somehow cohesively bound.
1:36 AM: I HATE THIS STUDENT SO MUCH RIGHT NOW.
1:38 AM: THEY CAN’T SPELL OR ATTACH PIECES OF PAPER TO ONE ANOTHER.
1:38 AM: F-!
1:39 AM: MUST TRY TO LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE TO SURVIVABLE LEVEL.
1:48 AM: Sigh. Okay. That one’s done. Let’s move on.
1:49 AM: Oh look, this group of papers is held together by a folded corner.
Seriously. Not a tough concept. Staples are not an endangered species, nor are they protected under any sort of natural resource safeguard law.
Use them. PLEASE.
Why don’t these people staple their homeworks?
Seriously, is it that hard to do?
Is a sighting of a stapler that rare up here? It’s not like they don’t sell them at, say FREAKING STAPLES. You can buy small ones that FIT IN YOUR DAMN PENCIL CASE!
Hell, I have one. It probably cost me at most $7. I can’t remember, since I bought it so long ago.
And l love how people think “folding the corner over” works. None of the 300 or so variations of “can I just fold the papers over?” have worked, especially when you have to shove your assignment into my mailbox, which may contain as many as 49 assignments already.
These SPSS assignments are about 20 points each. I think “staple your goddamn work” should be a 2-point demand on the next one.
Haha, they should devote an entire lab to it: “Today we’re not going to look at SPSS. Instead we’re going to look at this device: it’s a STAPLER. It HOLDS PIECES OF PAPER TOGETHER, which has been shown in empirical studies to help slow the progression of TA insanity. Practice with staplers may also improve your manual dexterity and help you look like less of an idiot by demonstrating that you understand the concept of binding things together with a small piece of metal.”
OH MY GOD.
Today’s song: Toe Jam by The BPA
A YouTube video in which is represented every mistake in every Infancy paper I read this semester.
- Thou shalt read the syllabus.
- Thou shalt write legibly.
- Thou shalt stay within the designated page limit.
- Thou shalt not contest every point missed on an exam.
- Thou shalt not blame thine TA for thine crappy test grades.
- Thou shalt consult thine textbook before asking stupid questions.
- Thou shalt not have to consult thine TA regarding what constitutes an “introduction” paragraph.
- Thou shalt use proper spelling, capitalization, and grammar in thine emails if thou wishes a prompt response.
- Thou shalt staple thine stupid homework pages.
- Thou shalt not assume thine TA has nothing better to do than to grade thine test.
Seriously, have any of these people ever seen a stapler? An obnoxious proportion of the 366 students fail to staple their assignments…it’s really freaking annoying. The whole “I’ll just fold my pages over” only works if you’re the only one doing it, so that when your crappy folding job falls apart, the TA will know that all the detestable pieces of free paper are yours.
I’m so pissed off about this whole situation I went through today. Let me lay it out for you:
I’m Teacher’s Aide for Mr. Kaag during 2nd hour. He asks me to go copy some tests, so I go up to the copy room to do it. In front of me in line are the two most incompetent girls I’ve seen in…well, a couple minutes, considering I was at high school. Anyway, they’re these two ditzy, scantily-clothed, room-temperature I.Q. chicks are laughing obnoxiously while they’re trying to figure out how to make copies. I mean really, people, how hard is it? You put the paper you want to copy on the tray. You press in (at most) 3 specifications. You press “start”. Simple, right? Not simple enough for these Neanderthal-like girls, who somehow manage to jam the machine at least 10 times–each time bending over to allow me a clear (and very unpleasant) view of their butt-cracks. Of course, I tried to help them, but gave up after about the 5th paper jam and spent the rest of the time waiting for them entertaining myself by banging my head repeatedly on the desk.
I can just see these two chicks IM-ing their friends later that night:hotgurl39: OMG i like tottaly jamed the copymachine at shcool today!!!!
hottieluv: dude u shouldve like gotten help form 1 of those geeky ppl
hotgur39: being a TA is hard!!!!! :P im going to like mary a smrt guy
hottieluv: hed be like bill gates and be rich and he could by u teh car you always wanted. hey are u goin to teh mall today with me and ali
hotgurl39: duh! i need new shoes!!!!! lol
Finally (after about an hour) they half-ass their way through enough copies to allow themselves to go back to their class, leaving me with the message, “I bet it won’t work for you, either!”
I flawlessly copied 40 13-page tests without jamming the copier.
ARRRRGH!!!! I hate incompetent people. When I become President of the United States, I’m going to be sure to fire promptly anyone who shows even the slightest bit of incompetence.