Learning How to TA

This term, I’m making my first foray into the world of being an in-class Teaching Assistant (TA). In past terms I’ve worked as an out of class TA, holding office hours and offering outside support, but this is my first time actually attending class. This means that there’s some new things for me to figure out, but there’s also some things that I learned from being a TA last term that still apply.

Ana and I were out of class TAs for a Classics course last term and I learned some important things from that experience. One thing I always try to do now when I’m working with a student is check what they do know. Immersed as we are in the world of metadata, I didn’t think to explain what metadata itself was. But pretty early on we got that question – what exactly is metadata? And once we got that question, it made sense. Metadata was not something they were studying in class, so there was no expectation that they would know what it was. After that, I made sure to check with students what they knew about Omeka and metadata first, so I would know where to start that would be most helpful. Because of course there is also the flip side to this problem – if a student is familiar and comfortable with metadata, there’s no need to explain it. So I always found it most helpful to check first before beginning any explanations, so I could meet the student where they were.

An aspect of being a TA that is absolutely new to me is being in class with the students. On Wednesday there was time in class for students to work on an assignment in pairs. I was a bit shy about going up the students when they were working, and at first just wandered and waited for someone to ask a question. I realized after a little while that actually approaching the students was more helpful. While when I wandered past the students wouldn’t ask any questions, if I prompted them with a simple, “how’s it going for you?” they frequently would ask me a question. So although I was shy about doing asking them directly, it was more productive for both of us if I did. I’m still trying to get more comfortable in my new role, but I’m learning some good approaches along the way in order to provide assistance for both the professors and students in the most helpful way.

See some of the work the class has been doing on the blog!

Course Blog for Bringing the English Past to Virtual Life

Digital Humanities (Mini) Job Fair!

One of the struggles, I think, that we as DHA’s have is the ability to convey what our work is really about and what exactly constitutes Digital Humanities. A lot of people on campus still don’t know what Digital Humanities is, let alone that we have a department here. Many people are often confused when I say I work as a Digital Humanities Associate, and I always have to give a 30-second elevator pitch about what my work entails.  With that in mind, I suggested the idea of having a Digital Humanities social/job fair as a way to expose students on campus to what we do as DHA’s. Every year there’s new students who are hired, so I think this could be a great way to motivate other students to apply to the jobs that may otherwise go unnoticed, or to at least learn what Digital Humanities is all about!

Myself and another of our DHA’s, Tyler, are now in the process of planning the event. However, instead of just focusing on DHA’s, we are also hoping to have students from other digital/tech related jobs at Carleton, such as our very own Digital Scholarship Interns, as well as Academic Technology assistants. We hope that this event will be a mini-job fair and that Carleton students can learn more about our jobs, and perhaps apply to these jobs next year.