Being A CS TA

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It’s ok to say “let me take a minute and figure that out and get back to you”. Professors do this all the time, they’re just practiced at concealing that they’re doing it.

  • Accessibility (no headphones, phones…)
  • Know/prepare for what students are learning in class.
  • Don't be condescending.
  • Make sure to spread your time with as many students as possible.
  • Act as if you want to be there and you want to help these students. If someone comes to you and says they are struggling or have a problem, take the time and show interest in going through the students code together and help figure out the problem.
  • Do not just give the student the answer; you want to teach the student, in a sense.
  • Do not type the answer or write the answer for the student.
  • If you're getting the same question from many students, explain and work on the board in front of all of the students, because it's likely more of them will have it.

Teaching -- Showing the way; directing, guiding; imparting instruction or knowledge.

Assistant -- One who is present to help; aiding, auxiliary. (Oxford English Dictionary)

As a teaching assistant, you will have many roles:

Educator -- First and foremost you must educate your students by imparting knowledge and understanding.

Subject Matter Expert --You need to be knowledgeable in the area you’re teaching. You don’t need to be all knowing. In computer science it’s often enough to know how to find and vet information rather than carrying all the details around with you.

Communicator -- It is essential that you convey concepts and facts clearly.

Motivator -- By making material interesting and showing enthusiasm, you can encourage students to learn.

Evaluator -- Providing feedback and assigning a grade are end products of the course. While grades may not be an important end product to the instructor, many students hold them to be of utmost importance.

Listener -- You must hear what students are saying both verbally and non-verbally. For instance, the rustling of books and papers at the end of a class is the students’ way of saying they’ve stopped paying attention.

Facilitator -- Coordination of class interactions such as leading and controlling discussion are important to two-way communication.

Counselor --You’ll provide guidance on how to be successful in the course as well as with future careers.

Role Model -- Perhaps the thing you teach most profoundly is “what kind of person is interested in this subject?” Don’t underestimate the impact you have on students. Because of your position, your behavior influences students. How you feel about lifelong learning, how you relate to other people, are all-important lessons your students, and the professor you are assisting, will learn.

University Representative -- Every moment you teach, you represent X and your department to the world. This is a heavy responsibility, but also an honor.

Some of the prose from this document are taken from:

We should filter it out



CS310 - speak louder, more engaging, “dynamic speech”, ok to wake-up sleeping people

CS370 - smaller room, bring them in