How you can ensure a positive graduate teaching experience

Be professional

  • 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

Be positive

  • 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.

Be prepared

  • 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.

Be organized

  • 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.