OMG UPDATE: Question? Answer.

Updated on Wednesday, August 13


QUESTION: Any tips for new TAs? How to be remembered as a good one :P


  1. speak english, not whisper chinese

  2. Don't be a fucking douchebag on a high horse. You're a student too, remember that. You're not better than anyone. If only TAs actually did this.

  3. 1. In your office hours, don't instruct in languages other than English. It was incredibly annoying to see Asian TAs explaining things to Asian students in their own language while I was sitting in the office, trying to get some help.

    2. Familiarize yourself with what the students will be using. Went to a TA to get help with R on a Stats assignment - "Oh, I don't know R, I'm not from UWaterloo" wasn't the reply I was looking for.

    3. Some of us appear to be stupider than others - I know I do. Please treat us kindly - we're just here to learn.

    4. Read through the student's solutions. I know it can be a pain, but some people are creative. Don't just dock marks if the student's solution is not a copy of the marking scheme.

    5. If you're running tutorials, try to make the content interesting. I found that the only tutorials I attended were where the TA wasn't droning on and on...

    1. Your first point implies that it is wrong to use a certain skill - language in this case - to help better the understanding of material for a particular student who would otherwise not have understood the concepts had it not been for that TA's particular skill set. I don't think there's anything wrong with speaking a language that you have in common with a student if it benefits both the student and teacher. How the hell could it be something that leaves a bad impression when it clearly shows that the TA is willing to leverage his or her abilities to teach his or her students on the subject? OP, don't listen to the first point. The rest are sort of acceptable, and yes you do seem stupid.

    2. The language of instruction at UW is English. Unless you are in a language class, all instruction should be in English. It is never acceptable for a professor or TA to address a certain group of students in another language while excluding others. If a student does not have sufficient command of the English language to conduct their studies here, they should not enrol here. End of discussion.

  4. Be approachable, friendly, patient and occasionally show up nude.

  5. This term I was taught by possibly the best TA ever. He did a lot of things right
    - detailed assignment feedback (granted, our class had ~20 people)
    - good, useful tutorials with examples relevant to assignments
    - helpful, friendly attitude

    However, his most distinguishing feature was that he ALWAYS responded to emails within a few hours. Usually on the same day.

    I also had the WORST TA EVER this term:
    - Responded really late to emails (~2 days later), or not at all. The PROF had a better response rate than he did
    - Class of ~20 people, and he marked assignments really harshly and carelessly, to the extent that about 50% would go back later to complain and get +20%. You'd have to be psychic to get 100% the first time through.
    - Full of himself. Sarcasm is appreciated sometimes but NOT when everyone is stressed over the exam
    - Did a tutorial. Uploaded incorrect slides. Didn't issue any corrections until after the assignment was finished.