Saturday, May 13, 2006

teacher teacher

I've supported myself through teaching undergrad classes or being a teaching assistant (T.A.) through most of grad-school. I quite like teaching, especially since I teach labs and subjects that are really close to my heart, I make it my personal agenda to educate students about it. Over the years, I've familiarised myself with the education system here which is quite different from back home, and mostly enjoy sharing a rapport with the students. But it has become a huge time-sink for me, and I'd rather be spending those 16 hours a week working on my research., it was that time of the year again, grading the students' finals, and assigning grades. It can be quite a roller-coaster ride. While grading, you see how some students actually got it .Their answers reflect precise understanding of what that chapter was trying to convey..and every such answer I read makes me happy, and often rethink if I was being too hard on them. Then there are those, who have no clue what we were talking about in class for the past eight weeks, and therefore no clue what the question is asking. I look at those, mark a huge zero against the crap they put down, and think "what the hell were you thinking??". Many times, I'll be laughing out loud and read out to my lab-mate some of the hilarious answers the students put down. One of the gems over all these years was "because oil is homophobic" - a reply to why water and oil don't mix.

Then comes the time to total all their points over the semester and assign A - F grades- I do this along with the course instructors, and we make decisions about all the "borderline" cases. Grades are posted, and I brace myself for the onslaught. Every pesky undergrad who's missed an A by "4 points" (when it's actually 16), or a B by "only 8 points", or a C by some such seemingly small number begins to show up at my lab. I try my best to explain to them how they'd need a whole 16 points to bring their total up, and it was not worth arguing over a point or two. However, if they wanted to re-address their basic understanding of statistics and E-values, I would be more than happy to sit and chat. They slither away, mumbling about making an appointment by phone and never really show up again. Hah!

When it's all done, I sit back and relax, enjoying the thought of devoting all my time to research over the summer..such a happy thought. Then comes this huge yellow envelope in the mail, my teaching evaluations! And as I sift through them, it makes it all worth it..{{show-off alert}}'s what some of them had to say:

"TGFI was a wonderful TA and she responded promptly to any question I had outside of class"
"She really understood everything we were taught in class, and challenged us to have a conceptual understanding of the material."
"TGFI was a good TA, pretty easy going and knowledgeable, all you can ask for"
"TGFI was great!"
"TGFI, you're great! you deserve an award!"

awwwww :-)

p.s: and no, my students don't know me as TGFI. ;)


greensatya said...

Congrats ! you got such nice feedbacks.

My only grouse was teachers giving a 'C' grade and blaming it on the 'Normal Curve'. I understand everything in world is normal curve but why me to make the tail?(the wrong one)

Even today with the appraisal in job the Normal curve won't go away. Damn it !!

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

*bows* thank-you :)

yeah, this curving business was a bit of an annoyance to me too. as a student, and as an instructor. but people who make it at the other end of the curve seem mighty happy about it..

Sayesha said...

Congrats, my dear girl! I'm sure you're a great teacher! :)

And yes, positive feedback makes your day, week, month and year, doesn't it? ;)

Macho Girl said...

so THATS what goes on thru my TA's mind whenever she gardes my papers!! Ok.. i am assuming that TAs all over the world work in similar ways!

And about the feedback... congrats!!! A student really feels like giving a positive feedback for a good teacher. I would know! I just praised one of my TAs and glorified her beyond anything coz i loved her teaching. You must be a really good teacher to get feedbacks like that! Congrats once again :)

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

thank-you :) yes, it did make my day, my week, and my lab mate caught me staring lovingly at those evaluations, again! ;)

thanks!!! yeah, your TA will be happy if you show interest, ask good questions, meet her in her office hours..ah..i just described my ideal student.;)
thanks for letting me know a bit about how the other side functions!

Sayesha said...

//oday my lab mate caught me staring lovingly at those evaluations, again! ;)

Hehehe... Enjoy! :)

Mindcrime said...

I always thought that teacher secretly enjoyed grading papers! :) Seriously, I do think that good teachers are hard to come by and I think you will be great! Thanks for signing and looking at my Blog.

Destiny said...

I had no idea professors get to see the evaluations. My question is, do you see them before or after you grade your students? I am quite sure you can tell who wrote what just by the penmanship. How fun pay-back must be when a "B" all of a sudden becomes a "C" !

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

naah we get to see them AFTER final grades have been posted and submitted to the registrars office. no such thing as sweet revenge here. :)
we have to see them, so we can improve, no?

Anonymous said...

One of the gems over all these years was "because oil is homophobic" - a reply to why water and oil don't mix.

he is a real smart chap :D

i thought only i knew the answer :|

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

@ anonymous,

hehe! I am SO glad that joke didn't get wasted, I felt rather sad that nobody seemed to have noticed/commented on it.

Rebellion said...

That was a cute post!

The Feedback you got was dam sweet :)
Sure it made your day.. Feels soo nice when you put in effort & are appreciated..

Great going.. All the best for life..

Take care,

PS: //"no, my students don't know me as TGFI"
Then what do they know you as?? ;) :P

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

thanks aarti!

they know me as......
hahaha i'm not so drunk...