Most graduate students have a Graduate Assistantship (GA) (working in an office, computer lab, Chemistry lab, ect.) or a Teaching Assistantship (TA). Some TAs (like myself) have little control over the class and are simply assisting the professor while others have their own section of a course to instruct. I should have that opportunity in the future, but this semester is simply a chance to gain experience.
I have met with Dr. Chris Davis three times to discuss the course in which I will be assisting and I got a copy of the syllabus yesterday. One of the most surprising things I have learned is that classes at JMU only run fourteen weeks plus a finals week. Therefore, there is little time to waste.
The course in which I am TA is GHIST 102 World History Since 1500. It meets MWF from 12:20 – 1:10 PM. There are 110 students in the course and my primary duty will be to police the class from the back of the room. In addition, the students will 12 quizzes that I will grade (that is 12 X 110!). Students will also be assigned three papers (2-4 pages) and two exams (mid-term and final). Students will be graded on their attendance and participation in the six discussions spread throughout the semester. Dr. Davis has assured me that I will get to grade some papers and exams based on his guidelines. This will be great experience for when I teach my own section of a history course and into the future. Most of my tasks with the course will be grading, but I was given the option to give a lecture of my choice. I jumped at the opportunity! After looking over the outline of the course, I have decided to lecture over “Culture and Society in the Cold War Era.” I feel comfortable teaching this topic because of the Cold War course I took at MSSU. I will pull out the books and my notes from that course to improve the quality of my lecture. I may even contact Dr. Wagner for a refresher on the movie clips he used in class! I will be in front of 110 students discussing the culture of the Cold War on November 10.
One requirement for TAs is having one office hour per week for student access, but I suspect most students will contact Dr. Davis. Most likely students will only contact me if they have questions with the content of the readings. The students have been assigned five books (I will read them as well, and was given free copies by the department). The books assigned for the course include (I will talk about all my books in greater detail as the semester progresses):
Well, now you have the complete picture of my semester. Coming up… I have History Orientation on Friday and I will write about that this weekend, and I will update again after my first week of courses (next weekend). Until then…