The TA experience

9.9.05

This is probably one of those border line entries where I feel like I might say more than I should yet being a TA is such a cool experience that I can’t help but to write about it. CSI201 is the equivalent to a 101 introductory class to computer science. The class must easily have many hundred students of all ages and levels of experience and so, therefore, my lab which has 25 students is quite a handful.

May I start by saying that I never took a computer science course that had a lab and for that reason I have never seen what a lab should be like. I also never used the computers that are in the lab and that is also quite a ride. I took a lot of time, much more than I should, preparing for my first lab just so I knew what to expect. By the end of my preparation I felt fairly sure what was going to happen and how I would get things done in the time span of an hour.

Some people weren’t sure that I was the TA and hesitated entering the room but soon enough 25 eager to learn students walked into the lab. It feels so good to be a TA and yet be only a sophomore, it’s the prize for my academic success in many ways. Once everyone was there I introduced myself (not exactly in the best of fashions) and proceeded with my little lecture which quickly became chaos. It’s hard to give instructions to people who have such a diverse range of knowledge. Some know a lot and some don’t even know how to type which meant that for most of the 60 minutes I was flying all over the place helping people with simple mistakes.

I had no idea of what to expect, and it was all a surprise to me. I managed to cover a good 80% of what I had planned to cover and hopefully next week it will be more orderly. Next week I also have to grade their first homework assignment. That should be fun because I don’t know how mean or nice I should be in the grading. The grades will speak for themselves and hopefully I will be a fair TA.