This page describes the expectations for Astronomy TAs. Please read through this once before you start TAing, and consider checking back a few times a term to be sure you are fulfilling your responsibilities as a TA.
- Set up a meeting with the professor well before the start of term. Ask what course responsibilities they expect you to take care of. Here are some questions you should ask.
- Hold office hours.
- Grade problem sets (or lab books).
- Be in weekly contact with students: Remind them when office hours are, etc.
- Know what is being taught during lectures, and brush up on material with which you are not familiar.
- Respond to student requests for meetings outside office hours or additional help sessions.
- Work problem sets in advance. If possible, make a solution set before the set is assigned so that you can catch and correct any errors or problems that are not clear. At minimum, work in advance of office hours.
- Keep a list of problems which should not be used in future years because they were unclear, unsolvable, require pages of algebra for very little insight, etc. Also, keep a list of good problems that convey the material well. Share these with the faculty member at the end of term and pass on the list to the TA of the class the following year.
- Compare what is being taught in lecture with what is suggested on the syllabus. If they don't agree, remind the faculty member(s) of the syllabus.
- If you are a TA for a lab session, make sure you understand the lab set up completely. Check the set up in advance to be sure the lab will go smoothly.
- Meet with the faculty member and/or EO at the end of the term to gather feedback about your performance.
- When available, check your scores in the Teaching Quality Feedback Report (TQFR).
Other possible responsibilities:
Your main job is to assist the faculty member teaching the course you are assigned to. Meet with them before the term begins to learn what their expectations are. Below are some possible responsibilities you may be expected to take on. There is often significant variation from course to course, professor to professor.
- Make and distribute solutions sets to assigned problem sets.
- Give occasional lectures.
- Arrange for class or conference room space for office hours or recitation sessions.
- Hold recitation sessions.
- Hold lab classes.
- Grade exams.
- Create and maintain a course website.
- Suggested questions to ask the Professor at the start of term
- How to be a good TA
- What information should be on the course syllabus?
- Suggestions for office hours
The Caltech Graduate Office has made a TA handbook. Some of the information on this website was taken from this document.