I’m really excited to start another semester of TAing tomorrow. My 2nd semester was rough, but this fall reminded me why I love it. There is nothing cooler than seeing a student “get it.” I got much better reviews for this past semester than I did last year, which was a great confidence boost. Several students said stuff along the lines of “she know her stuff!”, which made me smile. I usually get pretty good ratings as far as availability and caring about students, but it’s nice to get some skill-based good reviews as well.
I’ve done much more programming since I last taught this course (the focus is Matlab and Arduino programming), which should help me avoid the confidence issues that I ran into last Spring. We’re also cutting back on some of the non-programming lessons, which should reduce chaos (is there any way to have a freshman class with ~150 students, two professors, and 6+ TA/graders NOT be at least somewhat chaotic?!?). And I still have the one thing that made teaching this course feel valuable even during the struggles of last year – I can empathize with the students who struggle with programming and enjoy helping them work through their barriers.
I am not a particularly “natural” programmer. From experience, I know how much of a confidence boost it is when an instructor admits they haven’t always known everything. Hearing that competence in programming takes practice and patience to develop is a life-saver during those first few weeks of deer-in-the-headlights overload. I’m really looking forward to working with my fellow TA’s to convince our little freshmen that yes, they really can learn how to write code and get some awesome robot game time out of it 😉