who the heck knows anything, anyway

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Being a Teacher's Assistant: a Review

Somehow, I forgot to re-cap my full TA experience. So here it is.
(I'll try to keep it short and sweet)

The class was only four weeks long (as summer classes are occasionally wont to be), so right about the time people were starting to get all warmed up to the idea of Magic Realism*, the term went kaput. Their presentations went amazingly well, though, and I don't know how the papers turned out (those weren't my responsibility to grade, Thank Heavens) but I would guess they were, at least, chock full o' heart.

Grading was an extremely humbling experience. It simultaneously enlightened me (some of my students truly blew my mind with their input) and depleted my faith in humanity (out of twenty students, only two got A's, and I was being generous. Those two deserved it, definitely, but the people who didn't get there have absolutely no excuse. They never asked for help or extensions). I tried the best I could to give them the benefit of the doubt, but some really smart kids only got 35% on their homework**. Sloth was particularly popular sin to indulge in this summer, I guess. I will never understand it. Though they are probably a lot less stressed out than I am, on the whole...

That's about it. I loved interacting with the students***, and being treated like an authority on a subject was pretty awesome, though the best part about it was realizing how much more I have to learn. I'm not kidding. Nor am I trying to sound like a total toolbag. This is how it works:****

That One Class you take and love makes you feel like an expert, because you're on the receiving end of a font of knowledge. You feel all full up of good, smart things on a subject most people don't realize even exists. And then you do some independent research, and you feel even better about your knowledge base. And then you teach a class, and you start having revelations all over the dry-erase board about things that were never even on your radar. It's like flipping a switch. And BAM--you understand one of those elusive Truths. But instead of making you cocky, it makes you want more. I suppose you could compare learning to an addiction. At first, it's just a social indulgence--something you do because you need that degree to get a job, etc. Some people are content to leave it there. But some of us can't help it. We need more, more, more, because the rush of learning something fantastic is as invigorating as seeing the Hold Steady play live (i.e it's how I imagine being on E feels, sans crashing the next day).

This is why it's going to be really hard to leave school this winter. Yes, I am more than done with all of the BS that comes with getting a degree (and Portland and I are having a fight right now), but you might want to start taking bets on how long it takes me to go back. You could win some hella monies.

...What will I do when I don't have homework?

Post Scriptum:

Look what I found today!!! And immediately employed. DUH.

An example of my obsessive nature

 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is my homeboy.

*despite being one of my favorite genres, it is King of Ambiguity--concocting a definition for it has taken me about two years, if that's any indication.
**the lowest grade I gave on homework participation was 0/100. Seriously. ZERO PERCENT. Does that actually happen??!
***weirdly, I'd guess only one or two of them were younger than me. Teaching your peers is a disconcerting experience.
****disclaimer: probably not for everyone, but I'd warrant this is the case for more than just myself.