Helpful Tips for First-Time Graduate Teaching Assistants

You got your bachelor’s degree. You got into graduate school. Now, you find yourself with your first teaching assignment. For some grad students, this is an exciting moment for which they have been waiting a long time. For others, however, being assigned to teach is terrible news, and dread the idea of having to give a lecture. Some graduate students chose to go to grad school to further their educations and have absolutely no desire to teach. Unfortunately, if you are assigned as a graduate teaching assistant, you can’t exactly walk up to the director of your program or department and say, “No thanks.” So what do you? The short answer is that you suck it up and teach. Below are a few helpful tips for graduate teaching assistants who are teaching for the first time.

Be confident.

If you are being asked to teach a course as a graduate student, it is likely that it is an intro-level course. You already have an undergraduate degree, so the material should be basic and familiar to you. When you walk into the classroom, you should remember that you are the expert in the room. Being confident in your knowledge should not only reduce your nervousness as a new instructor but should also increase your students’ confidence in you, and ease any classroom management issues that may arise.

Use your resources.

Prepping a new course can take a lot of time. As a graduate student, you will find that time is one of your most limited resources. You are probably not the first person who has ever taught the course that you have been assigned, so don’t waste your time reinventing the wheel. Ask your faculty members and peers for resources, such as previous syllabi, tests, and lectures. You can easily adapt these resources to fit your vision without undue strain on your schedule. If you are in a rare situation and are unable to find resources from your faculty or peers, contact the publisher of the book you are using. Many publishers have additional resources for instructors to accompany their books.

 
 
 
 
 

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