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Types of TA’s You Will Find

Personalities of teaching assistants

When you get to college and see that scrawny kid next to the professor, your immediate reaction may be, “Hmph, teacher’s pet already.” Although this is accurate, this teacher’s pet has the power to kill or save your grade. Say hello to the TA.

TA’s come in different shapes in sizes. Over the years of my undergrad I have organized them into the following categories:

The Wannabe Professor

The overzealous teaching assistant has nothing better to do than to judge every inch of your extra credit assignment. This TA usually gets there before the professor and wears a smug grin when you answer aloud to your teacher’s question in class. They believe because they have the power to change your grade, they can control your life. Do not let this person intimidate you. If you feel you are being graded incorrectly, make an appointment with your professor, or with the dean if need be. These guys need to get off their high horse. Seriously.

The Replacement

Sometimes professors have other duties they must attend to. They can be attending a meeting because they are the department chair, saving the world or just playing golf. Whatever the case is, this TA takes over. Similar to the “Wannabe Professor”, this TA believes that they are the ones really in charge. The good thing is they are a seasoned TA with all the right answers and knowledge of the subject matter. The only downfall is since they are busy teaching all the classes your professor misses, they will not be responsive to emails or always be at their office hours.

The Doesn’t-Care-About-Your-Grade

Unfortunately, not everyone cares about your GPA as much as you do. Heck, sometimes even you don’t care about your GPA. This teaching assistant is no different. They hardly check your work thoroughly and give minimal to no feedback. If anything, you nag them more than they nag you. Did you email them? Don’t expect a response. Did they schedule office hours with you? They won’t show up. Although you might get an A+ in the class, you probably have not learned what you did wrong along the way.

The Helping Hand

This is the TA you dream to have. They have plenty of office hours, respond to your emails immediately and give you detailed notes on how to improve your assignments. Their feedback is golden because it is exactly what the professor tests you on during exams. They actually want you to do well in class. Crazy, right? Alas, not all TA’s are like this. You may only encounter a couple in your time at school. How do your teaching assistants match up to these descriptions, do they sound like someone familiar? Maybe you have some categories of your own. Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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