First Week as a Teaching Assistant

This week (Monday), I started my position as a teaching assistant for the Computer Science department at Central Michigan University.  As this was my first time as a TA, they thought it would be prudent to give me lab sections of CPS 100 (“Computers and Society”).

I have 5 sections of CPS 100, with roughly 45 people in each section.  I thought that my lab sections have gone well so far.  In fact, I even learned some things.

  • No matter how many times you explain it, some students will still staple the papers in the wrong order.
  • Stapling papers in the correct order doesn’t matter.
  • Students are generally very surprised when I walk in and stand up by the podium.  Apparently I look young.
  • The students are generally very cordial and nice when dealing with me.  Most don’t want to be there, so it’s all I could ask for I guess.
  • The technology required for Lab WILL fail.  This is not the end of the world, just kind of roll with it and there won’t be any problems.
  • I am old.  Someone called me “Mr. Slingerland”.
  • It feels nice when someone approaches you, apologizing profusely for not bringing a flash drive, because the course syllabus said that they would need one.  If everyone was this dedicated, my job would be way too easy.
  • There is a strong camaraderie between the grad assistants in the department.  We all can relate to each other, so what seems like instant friendships have formed.

That’s all I’ve really learned by teaching so far.  The first lab excercise was really simple, and having done it before class helped a lot with being prepared.

Besides that, I have 3 courses this semester.

  • CPS 650 – Compiler Construction
  • CPS 670 – Operating Systems
  • CPS 685 – Pattern Recognition and Data Mining

All these courses interest me, so I feel that I’ll do well this semester.  Between that and having an office (that I share with 4 other people) on campus, it’ll make getting homework done very easy.

By Jack Slingerland

Founder of Working and living in Raleigh, NC. I manage a team of software engineers and work in Python, Django, TypeScript, Node.js, React+Redux, Angular, and PHP. I enjoy hanging out with my wife and son, lifting weights, and advancing in my free time.