If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being a TA, it’s that good teachers are few and far between, and when you find one, you should take as many classes from that person as you can. It doesn’t matter if what they teach is your area or not – the experience of having a good, caring, effective teacher is such a rare one that you need to take advantage of it when it comes along. And – this is also important! – you need to tell them that what they are doing is good, it matters, and you are grateful.
There is nothing more exhausting than pouring your heart and soul into a subject you love, hoping to see someone, anyone, get that sparkle in their eye, and having the higher-ups whisk the rug out from under you. When that happens, it can seem like there is no point anymore to all the work you put in, all the details you straighten out, all the care you take making sure that last students ‘gets it.’ But then one of them turns around at the end of class, letting their friends hurry past, on to the next thing, and says “Thanks Teach. That was cool!” And it’s all worthwhile again.
That moment – that is what keeps me from throwing up my hands and giving in to the urge to slack off. There goes someone who knows more than they did an hour ago, someone who might be inspired to continue their education, to keep asking those questions. As teachers, we live for those moments. Or we should. A moment like that for me means that a student had a moment of their own – a moment when they saw something new, or felt something fall into place. As a TA, I get to experience both sides of this equation at once. I know, because I’m a student too, how inspiring a moment like that can be. It’s what keeps me at school year after year, learning and asking, looking for that next revelation.
So if you’ve had a moment like that lately, or even in the past, just go ahead and let that teacher know. Even years down the line, it will make their day. Maybe even their week.