Sunday, November 19, 2006

Things I wish my TA would have taught me...

It's past midnight and I've been marking since 1pm. I've got awhile to go before I'm done, too.

So, what better time to take a break while I give you hints for the undergrad...if any of you are reading this:

Firstly...the key thing to know is 'who is marking your midterm?' This leads to a couple of points:

1- watch your prof...what is he/she like? Match your answer to his/her teaching style.

I am TAing 3 (g-damn) classes this semester. 2 profs I work for will cut off marking if you give them the right answer ~somewhere~ (and advised me to do the same). The other prof, though? She deducts marks if you continue on to say stupid things. Sounds mean, but it isn't. What she looks for is the 'global' perception...she marks if you understand and gives you a small 'cuff on the ear' so to speak, when you are lazy or just keep rattling on so that eventually you'll make your point. Be mindful of that. Who's your prof?

2- it may be a TA marking your midterm. Your TA gets instructions from your prof, so see 1. But remember your TA is a student, too. Your TA has more work than you do, I don't care if you've got 5 classes. Your TA is up at midnight while her entire Saturday has passed her by, pounding out a blog entry so that she can take a few minutes away from her marking. Your TA has vowed to herself that she will try to get all this stuff done tonight (Saturday) so that she can use all of Sunday to work on her own crap...finally. Your TA, if she's got 3 TA posts, has been marking midterms for the past 3 weeks and is worried about a/ preparing for her own classes, b/ preparing for the other stuff she attends (reading groups, lab meetings, etc), c/ preparing for her thesis meeting on Monday. Because of you she has a/ no time to bring her car to the garage to get its tires changed, b/ no time to get groceries, c/ turned down 3 invites to hang out with friends, d/ seen her bf only as he walks past her desk to go to the kitchen and back, e/ felt guilty for turning down a friend who just left her husband and wanted to go for a hike tomorrow...etc. She's probably tired and a little bummed out and anxious to get to her own studies if not her own life.


- study for your assignments and exams. Do ~me~ a favour and know what you're talking about.

- be quick and to the point. I just awarded someone full marks for saying everything she needed in a chart where others did it in several paragraphs. It was clear that she understood and explained it well. Done and done.

- don't use those damn covers! You know, the plastic ones that you think impress your prof?? They're sooo annoying!

- but dont' forget to staple your stuff! Paperclip at the very least.

Remember, most TAs really ~want~ to give you good marks. But they do mark hard. They worked to get where they are, so they think you should too. If you're supposed to mention something, mention it.

And go see your TA if they offer office hours. Get them to know your faces. In fact, make sure your prof knows who you are, too.

Okay, I gotta get back to it now...


-'your TA' may mark one question at a time and order the assignments/tests according to the marks so far. This means that you're probably right next to the person you copied from, dumbass.

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