Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thoughts of a Teaching Fellow

"Is anybody there?
Does anybody care?
Does anybody see what I see?"
from the 1776 musical

That's often how I feel about the class I am TAing. Now, I absolutely adore teaching. I was a teacher's aide my senior year of high school, and a student tutor after school, and I'm a teaching fellow now for an introductory level computer science course. And I really do enjoy it. I want to share the passion that I have and make sure that other people continue to pursue this absolutely amazing field. But, every once in a while, I hit this dull point where I wonder - do any of my students actually care? All of them have the 'just get it done' attitude. And I confess, I've had that attitude many times, in many classes. But as part of the teaching team, it's very, very hard to see that attitude. Some of my students have a sense of defeat about the projects. I hate seeing that.  I love when they come to me and I explain it and the light bulb appears and the realize they are in fact capable of understanding. But not every student comes to me.

As part of this job I've been asked to write assignments. It's actually really hard. I want to make them easy to understand but challenging so that you learn. I have to remember what things I know that my students may not already know. And I spend a lot of time working on the assignments. In fact I spent part of my hurricane day working on a lab for my class.

As such, it's very hard to not despair and think - none of them notice I want them to succeed, that I work hard to make their learning experience better, I should just give up. But this class has the potential to change the future of the curriculum (it's a pilot class testing some new things) and I can't just give up on it. But I'm losing some motivation, that's all.

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