· Be clear. It is very important that you communicate clearly and effectively with your students. Be sure they understand what is expected of them, both logistically and academically, to avoid any potential confusion and conflict.
· Be professional. Remember that your students may be your peers, but it is important to maintain a professional relationship with them, both inside and outside of the classroom. Be friendly and polite when seeing them outside of class, but remember that it is inappropriate to develop social relationships with them beyond that.
· Be prepared. Ensure you have a strong grasp on the material and are prepared to answer any questions or direct students towards the proper resources if necessary. Also, if your teaching assistantship requires you facilitate seminars or deliver lectures, be sure to practice, practice, practice in advance! Stand in front of a mirror and present the material to reduce feelings of nervousness when presenting to students.
· Be fair, honest and flexible. Do not pick favourites. In all your dealings with students, be sure to treat everyone equally – it is important for students to feel they are all receiving the same treatment.
· Stick to the course material. Don’t preach or otherwise strongly impose your viewpoints. Your job is to convey course material, not your personal opinions.
· Don’t make exceptions to the course rules without first consulting the instructor. If you bend the rules for one student, word can spread quickly and other students will expect to be granted the same exceptions.
· Manage your time. Be sure to strike a balance between your personal and professional life. The workload of a teaching assistant can be very onerous, however be sure to budget your time effectively between your role as a teaching assistant, as a student, and as an individual with a personal life.
· Ask for help. It is important for you to have communication between yourself and the professor, therefore do not hesitate to ask for clarification whenever necessary. Ensure you have a clear understanding of your role and responsibilities. It is can also be helpful to talk to experienced TAs for tips and/or troubleshooting advice.
Information on Teaching Assistant consultations, workshops, and resources for graduate students at the University of Guelph can be found at the following link:
This post was adapted from The Graduate Student Guide to Teaching at Yale University: Becoming Teachers (http://www.yale.edu/graduateschool/teaching/forms/Becoming_Teachers.pdf), Education Portal’s Student/Teacher: Tips for Being a Great TA ( http://education-portal.com/articles/Student_Teacher_Tips_for_Being_a_Great_TA.html), UBC’s A Guide to Effective Practices for Teaching Assistants (https://people.ok.ubc.ca/lymcpher/Guide%20to%20Effective%20Practices%20for%20Teaching%20Assistants.pdf), and Philip J. Guo’s Tips for First-Time Teaching Assistants (http://www.pgbovine.net/ta-tips.htm).