Another semester is underway and that means back to TAing. Last semester I got spoiled by landing a TA position at the Marine Science Center. While TAing a Three Seas Class brought some extra responsibilities, it was certainly nice to avoid commuting to campus. However in the spring, there are no classes offered at the MSC, so all us grad students who get our funding from teaching have to trek down to main campus to teach undergraduate biology labs. While the commute can be a pain, usually several fellow grad students have the same teaching schedule, so carpooling is a great way to save money, and have some company along for the ride. There are a couple big decisions associated with the commute as well. Should you drive all the way to campus to save time, but pay an arm and a leg for parking? Or park for cheap/free at the T station and endure a slightly longer commute? I like to change it up, ride the T sometimes, and grudgingly pay for parking when I am feeling lazy. One recent improvement to my commute is that I finally got an EZpass for my car. No longer will I be frantically searching for cash as I near the toll booth for the tunnel that transports me under the harbor from the North Shore to downtown.
The commute really is half the battle, especially since this is my third year TAing the same course, General Biology II, so I’ve got the teaching part down. I thought it might even be a little boring, doing the same material for a third time. But once I met the students I remembered that they are really what makes each lab a new adventure. Its always a challenge learning everyone’s names and figuring out which students are going to be the ones who ask lots of questions and come to office hours, and which ones will surprise you by doing very well without any extra help. Most of the time students just want to finish their lab and go home, but this semester I already have some friendly students who are interested in chatting about my graduate studies and such, which is always a nice way to pass the time in lab.
This semester my teaching schedule is a bit different. In the past I always taught early morning and afternoon labs, so I was always done by 5 at the latest. This semester though, I teach a lab that starts at 435, so we aren’t done until 7ish. When I first saw my assignment, I was surprised that undergrad labs ran so late, and apparently some of my students were also surprised. One cheeky student asked, “Will dinner be provided in this lab?”
Joking aside, TAing really isn’t a bad way to earn our salary. Especially for a graduate student like me who is interested in an education related career after grad school.
Well, I better stop procrastinating and tackle grading this huge stack of lab reports!