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Acting as a personal assistant for my professor.

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Introduction

John Stamos 5/9/04 EDUC-388 UTA Final Assessment Paper My responsibilities as a UTA for Professor Coughlin's Introduction to Microeconomics class was to be his personal assistant for things related to the class where I could help him, especially in computer-related tasks. The task Professor Coughlin entrusted to me at the start of the semester was simply to set up and maintain the course website and to hold office hours. My office hours were held 12:30-1:30pm every Tuesday and Thursday in the student lounge of Tydings, room 1128, and I only cancelled them once or twice during the entire semester due to other responsibilities. No students ever showed up to my office hours, and my task was only to announce that they were available on the website and syllabus, and to always be prepared with the textbook and a knowledge of the chapter, in case somebody came. Every day I held office hours with the colorful Microeconomics textbook on the desk before me. To get me acquainted with the content of the class and its direction, as well as to receive my input and assistance, Professor Coughlin involved me in the preparation of the course syllabus. We sat down one-on-one and looked over the syllabus line by line over the winter break, before Professor Coughlin had been able to contact any of the graduate teaching assistants. In doing this, we discussed many aspects of the class, including exam schedule and content. I developed my listening skills-listening to what the Professor wanted and what his thinking patterns were like, and also my own communications skills-to express what something might be like for an undergraduate. ...read more.

Middle

Other than that there have been no major mishaps. Professor Coughlin often thanks me for updating the website and also had me show him and the other undergraduate TA how to use the CGI program. He's also planning to use the slides I made for next fall. In our personal meetings, I have developed a positive, constructive relationship with Professor Coughlin, and this was mostly accomplished by the first couple weeks of the semester because he makes me feel as if my work and input are valued and appreciated. He is very clear about what he wants, but is also a good listener. I have been willing to be flexible with my time also; I have often met with him for a little more than the prescribed time though it made me late for work. It's important to do this because I may have to do something for him by the time he meets with the graduate discussion leaders, so that he can discuss what I've done with them and get their feedback. I've met with the head discussion leader during her office hours a few times when necessary and developed a constructive relationship with her as well. She feels free to e-mail me with a request about the website and I feel free to ask her help when developing homework solutions. One area where I changed my behavior in our personal meetings is that I began to use a notebook organized by date of meeting, and write down as much as I can during my meetings with the Professor. In the beginning I would only take the slides he gave me with notes on them, but I occasionally forgot some detail of the meeting, so I found it better to keep my own notes. ...read more.

Conclusion

I thought that I would not like to teach in the future, but did not get enough of an experience to judge how teaching would be entirely. Mark's experience was very different from mine because he was in the class every day. But he also enjoyed what he was doing and prepared some things on his own time for the class, such as a how-to packet for one of their projects. Mark was also able to bring in some of his own work to show to the class. The professor allowed him considerable independence and leeway. The main lesson I got from all this is that there are so many different methods of teaching within academics. Teaching studio art and economics lecture are very, very different. Teaching a big lecture and a small seminar would be very different as well, just as there are big differences taking them. However, I think the differences are reflected to a greater degree in teaching, because teaching is a more holistic and involved type of responsibility with relation to the course. We discussed the differences between straight lecture and critical thinking in class. There are also big differences depending on the subject you teach, because it is reflected in who your students are. Overall, this is an experience of more limited value for me since I acted as a personal assistant rather than a classroom teacher or tutor. However my original purpose in doing this program was not mainly to tutor, but just to assist Professor Coughlin, and I have accomplished that purpose and I have learned the rewards of accomplishing that purpose. Source Hall, K. (1992). Co-Assessment: The Bridge Between Student Self-Assessment and Teacher-Assessment. 12th Annual International Seminar for Teacher Education, p134-144. ...read more.

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