How you can ensure a positive graduate teaching experience
- Be attentive to deadlines.
- Use professional language in all communications, written and verbal.
- Be friendly to (but not friends with) your students.
- Be critical but fair in evaluating student work.
- Use grades to distinguish among different levels of quality.
- Refrain from sharing personal problems with your students; however, if these issues interfere with your work, you should make your faculty supervisor aware of the situation
- Use positive reinforcement to motivate students; praise correct or interesting responses and create incentives rather than penalties.
- Encourage students to think that they can understand all the material; refrain from blaming students for their lack of understanding; ask students what aspect is difficult to understand and try a different explanation.
- Communicate effectively and regularly with your students, the administrative staff, and the faculty supervisor.
Be on time
- Return papers in a timely manner.
- Arrive to class early to prepare.
- Start and finish class on time.
- Check e-mail regularly and reply to it promptly, even simply to state that you received the e-mail but will need more time for a complete reply.
- Participate in all preparatory sessions arranged by your department or faculty supervisor.
- Read and understand the course materials ahead of the preparatory session.
- Perform labs or demonstrations yourself during the preparatory session.
- Learn in advance how to set up audio-visual devices and other equipment.
- Think through all possible problems that could happen in your class.
- Get advice from your faculty supervisor and other TFs on common student concerns and problems that may arise. Consult with a fellow graduate student who has experience serving as a TF in the same course.
- Complete student assignments yourself without using the answer key; outline paper assignments ahead of time.
- Decide upon your grading criteria before the assignment is due and inform students of the criteria.
- Keep accurate records of student grades, attendance, and e-mail communication.
- Make hard copies of grades to guard against a computer crash.
- Provide an outline of the class plan at the beginning of class.
- Make the objectives of the class clear.
- Keep students’ papers in a safe place.
- Store e-mails to/from students in a separate folder for the class.