Teaching assistant not the easiest job
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 00:10
According to UConn’s teaching assistant application, TAs must undertake two teaching experiences, devote at least 21 hours a semester with individual students and attend tutorial sessions with their assigned professors. For these and other responsibilities, the assistants receive a stipend of approximately $19,400 (according to the 2007-2008 academic year), a tuition waiver and highly subsidized insurance waivers.
Unlike many of her colleagues, Amanda Holesinger, a graduate teaching assistant pursuing a Master’s in communications, must balance her academics while also teaching 100 UConn students. Her typical day on campus lasts from nine in the morning to nine at night. On days like these, Holesinger has to teach four classes in a row, hold office hours and attend her own classes.
Balancing all of these responsibilities forces her to sacrifice many of the activities regular graduate students get to pursue since most do not have to spend their entire day on campus. In addition, there are traveling restrictions on TAs, requiring them to stay one week before and after the semester—which cuts into Christmas break.
For Holesinger, however, academics always come first.
“Your students are important,” Holesinger said. “But academics are what you need to focus on.” She went on to say that her supervisors understand this.
Nevertheless, balancing her role as a student and teacher has not been an impossible task. Despite the time commitment, Holesinger does not feel like she has too much on her hands.
“It has taken some getting used to,” said Holesinger, smiling. “But I don’t feel like anything has fallen through the cracks.”
Holesinger chose to be a teaching assistant because she wants to teach after she gets her PhD. The position has given her a head start by developing the necessary skills to teach during her Masters that students would normally acquire when pursuing a PhD.
“They won’t have to teach me how to teach when I get there,” said Holesinger. “The opportunity to teach these classes is certainly good to get experience.”
For Holesinger, these benefits are reasonable, but not the best.
“I can’t imagine living on this salary with a family. I certainly have to think about money, but I don’t feel like I am in any danger of not being able to eat.”
When asked if she regrets her decision to become a teaching assistant, Holesinger quickly replied, “Absolutely not! It certainly has been a great experience and I don’t regret being a TA.”