The life of a TA


Sarah Liu

Kirsten Todd (12) and Shannon Donlon (12) proofreading papers.

Just like Santa, teachers are busy people, and they need their own elves, who we know as “TAs” (teacher’s assistants). Behind the scenes in a classroom, these TAs ensure that tests and quizzes are graded, grades are entered, papers are filed and students who need assistance are helped.

In the heat of the moment, the scramble to help teachers can often be overwhelming, but the teachers will allow the TAs to do their personal work.

“With my TAs, academics come first,” Algebra II teacher Elizabeth Kirby said. “If they need to do something, I will let them take care of those things first.”

In order to be a TA, the student must have a study hall and must have permission from the teacher for whom they want to TA. After gaining both of those things, a form which can be obtained from the office or the teacher must be signed by the student, their guardian(s) and teachers and are then turned into the office. The process of becoming a TA is far from difficult, but students must be prepared and willing to work.

“If you want to be a TA, expect that the teacher is going to ask you to do things,” Kirsten Todd (12) said.  “Have the mindset that you are being an assistant for them.”

Teachers who are not club sponsors are allowed two TAs, and the number increases with the number of clubs a teacher sponsors. Often, teachers end up needing more TAs than what they are allotted.

“I do think more teachers need TAs, and I don’t like the fact that you have to be a club sponsor to get more TAs, “ Tajah Warren (12) said.

Many perks can also come from being a TA. Come time for applications to college or other programs, teachers are typically the sources of recommendations. As TAs, students have the opportunity to forge closer relationships with teachers, a crucial element for a sincere recommendation. Assistants also learn valuable skills, such as patience, efficiency and diligence and can even connect with other students.

“I do like helping teenagers, especially those that are younger than me, so I do get to foster those relationships with them and see how they communicate with each other,” Warren said.

TA-ing for a former teacher can also brings back memories and experiences from when you were a student.

“I get to see you guys do different things in Biology,” Todd said. “It’s always cool to listen to things again.”

For those who are interested in being TAs, there are several things to keep in mind. Make sure to TA for a teacher whose company you enjoy and vice versa as well as for a subject that you are fond of or consider pursuing later in life. Some days can be frustrating, but the key is to remain calm and not slack off.

“Don’t slack,” Todd said. “Take it seriously, but have fun with it.”

It is also important to remember to work hard as a TA and that the purpose of being one is to assist others, not oneself.

“Students who TA or tutor should do so with the urge to want to give back to the community,” Kirby said.