Having gone through a couple weeks as a UTA, I think the primary attribute that a teacher needs is endurance/persistence. I briefly led a workshop wherein students were all kinds of unprepared, some within reason. I did my best to help everyone, but not nearly as many students finished the workshops. It was only somewhat frustrating (although I imagine it would have been more so as the professor).
Furthermore I’ve thought about why it is that students don’t want to participate in discussion, or input their thoughts. I think a lot of it is shyness, or maybe just being in a new environment. My ENGL 215 class is far more talkative, and maybe that’s simply because the people in that class are more interested in the course itself (it does have a lot more art majors). I also think that some student’s appetites have yet to be whetted, in terms of what really gets them excited; a student today talked a lot when a subject he was studying came up.
As the year has revved up, I’ve been continually reevaluating what it means to be a UTA for a Focused Inquiry course. Coming from the School of the Arts; where self-starterness and huge levels of personal involvement are expected, I don’t understand many students at all. Furthermore I’ve no idea what I could do for them, especially if AP can’t get them interested/active. It’s also somewhat frustrating to have no real questions asked of me; any thoughtful questions are directed to AP thusfar.
So in terms of authority that a UTA has, it’s really not much. THAT BEING SAID I hope to find ways to help students more directly. Perhaps in the next workshop I’ll try and talk to students about more content-oriented things. Workshop is one of the only times that I feel that I can help out students, so far nobody has come to me with questions really. Maybe I should try to be less scary.
I really don’t know what I could want from AP or the UTA program. I suppose ultimately I want to be successful as a teacher; to impact the kids in some way or another and learn by practicing the process.