This is my first time working as a teaching assistant, and I have gained a lot of experience and growth throughout the semester. First of all, the role and responsibilities are very different from being a student. When I was a student, I could just take care of my own learning and ask questions if I didn’t understand something, so my mentality was somewhat dependent at that time. However, when I changed to another role – teaching assistant, I was no longer just responsible for myself, but also for the learning status of junior students.
Second, the role of the teaching assistant in the class. As I became more used to my job as a teaching assistant, I came to realize that teaching assistants not only assisted teachers in classroom matters and provided guidance on reports and presentations to students, at the same time, it also served as a bridge between teachers and students. In this way, the professor could convey her teaching philosophy and attitude through teaching assistants, and students could also respond to teaching progress and problems through teaching assistants. On the other hand, I could notice the learning problems of the students at this stage by communicating with them, so I was able to keep an eye on the status and progress of the students’ learning for the teacher. Besides, I thought the most challenging thing was to answer students’ questions and provide them with help and advice on their coursework. Because solving questions and teaching others required reorganizing my knowledge and memories, and then passing them on in a simple way. As such, I need to consider the topic from the students’ perspective to handle the teaching content in a more accessible way.
Third, the teaching assistant can learn the class again. Listening to the class for the second time could undoubtedly deepen my impressions and sometimes even facilitate more comprehensive thinking toward the topic. When I was a student of the first year, I put more focus on the textbook and what the teacher taught me since I was not familiar with the course. However, after I became seniors and listened to the lectures again, I was able to integrate more with what I had learned before and stimulate more different thinking, which allowed me to learn through different perspectives and examine my understanding of the course.
Finally, this job was not only a simple task but also a chance to gain a lot of practical experience in dealing with things. For example, at the beginning of the semester, most international students could not come to the classroom due to COVID-19, so TAs needed to learn how to use Google Meet to start online classes and prepare video recording devices. In this process, I realized that I am poor at using this type of software and tools, and this has enabled me to identify my own weaknesses and future directions for improvement.
In conclusion, what I got from participating in the teaching assistant program was not only money but also a new perspective on the same course and a new experience. The role of the teaching assistant is unique in that to the student, I am a teacher, but to the teachers, I am still a student. In both roles, I have to learn how to assist teachers as well as mentor younger students. And I am very grateful to Dr. Yeh for her continuous recognition. Being a teaching assistant has made me more mature in my thinking pattern, and I have learned a lot about how to behave with people. For me, it was good training to improve my professional skills and interpersonal interaction.