Very practical advice for a first-time T.A.

For me, teaching has become a real pleasure. I feel inspired by my students and I love the feeling of camaraderie that develops in a well-managed classroom. It wasn’t always that way, though. When I first started teaching, I couldn’t believe how much harder it was than I’d imagined. It was all I could think about, and I’d practically have a panic attack before class.

I think professors and administrators sometimes don’t realize how hard it is to start teaching, and how badly we grad students want to do a good job. Unlike K-12 teachers, we get almost no formal training, and what training we do have tends toward the theoretical or the super-specific. The assumption seems to be that we’ve been going to class for eighteen years; it shouldn’t be so hard to make the transition to teacher.

Oh, but it is. It really is. Some people fall into it without batting an eyelash, but we don’t trust these weirdos. For the rest of us, here are some things I wish I’d known when I started.

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