I will begin to teach a math course in the fall semester as a Graduate Assistant in my state. Any helpful advice would be appreciative? Any recommendations on math teaching books or education books will be also helpful?

Thanks,

Cbarker12

- Thread starter cbarker12
- Start date

I will begin to teach a math course in the fall semester as a Graduate Assistant in my state. Any helpful advice would be appreciative? Any recommendations on math teaching books or education books will be also helpful?

Thanks,

Cbarker12

- Joined
- Dec 30, 2014

- Messages
- 10,368

Don't worry so much, you'll do fine.

As a new Graduate Assistance you will not be given anything higher than calculus 1 or calculus 2 to teach.

The biggest recommendation for you that I have is to be prepared. If you do not see a solution immediately, then don't even try it in class. Solve it the next time. I have an incredible amount of hours teaching math and I would try to do a problem that I did not see how to do in class. Most times I do get it in the end. However as a new instructor, this will throw you off your game and make you look bad to the students. If you assign homework problem, then make sure that you can do them, in case a students asks you to solve it in class.

Again, be prepared to give the best lecture that you can give.

Expect high standards from your students as they will raise to your expectation of them! Don't worry about giving out too many low grades as you are not looking for tenure. Be available to your students, treat them with respect and let them know that you care about them.

If you have any other questions/concerns then please ask.

BTW, are you going to be PhD student in mathematics?

Cbarker12

- Joined
- Jun 18, 2007

- Messages
- 24,306

New Graduate Assistants "generally" start off with grading home-works.

Cbarker12

- Joined
- Dec 30, 2014

- Messages
- 10,368

That is not close to being anywhere near true.New Graduate Assistants "generally" start off with grading home-works.

- Joined
- Dec 30, 2014

- Messages
- 10,368

I guess this is late for you but you should always apply for the PhD program even if you know that you only want the masters degree. I had many friends who applied for a PhD program, got accepted and supported knowing that they only want to earn a masters degree. This happened while NONE of the students in the masters program were supported.

Cbarker12

My program allows me to have tuition waiver up to 9 credits as a Master student. I get a stipend of $10,000 per year.

- Joined
- Jun 18, 2007

- Messages
- 24,306

You must be one of those voodoo tarot card reader - who can comment on the truth of experience of another life.That is not close to being anywhere near true.

- Joined
- Dec 30, 2014

- Messages
- 10,368

What you said was simply not true for most cases. Advanced graduate students, ones who have a thesis advisor, are usually the ones who get to grade papers for their advisor in exchange for financial support. The newest students get to teach. It is like the seniority system--the more seniority you have the better job you get.You must be one of those voodoo tarot card reader - who can comment on the truth of experience of another life.

- Joined
- Dec 30, 2014

- Messages
- 10,368

You get $10,000 for teaching one course per semester?

My program allows me to have tuition waiver up to 9 credits as a Master student. I get a stipend of $10,000 per year.

As a graduate assistant where I tried it for a semester, we did not "teach." We wereI will begin to teach a math course in the fall semester as a Graduate Assistant in my state.

going over homework questions in class and making up quizzes to help the students

prepare for their exams when all of them would meet with the professor in the lecture hall. We were there to reinforce the material that the professor had supposedly taught.

For my part, I found it too exhausting and stressful for the one hour 10 minutes each way drive combined with walking to the math department, meet with three sections

of 30 students each out of a total of six sections shared among three graduate students, and attend five graduate classes. The experiment did not last.

Last edited:

My stipend will be given to me every 2 weeks per month of each semester. I.e. I will get $5,000 for 1st semester.You get $10,000 for teaching one course per semester?

I would be teaching several sections of one course...

- Joined
- Apr 29, 2021

- Messages
- 4

The biggest problem graduate students have with teaching undergraduate math is not being able to comprehend "not understanding math." What's obvious to you will not be obvious to them. Not all students learn the same way. The way you were taught may not be the best way to teach.

The lower level classes most likely will be populated by students who are not mathematically inclined. Teaching under the assumption that they all are will just lead to disaster for the majority of them. But don't misunderstand me: know your learning objectives, and have your standards. The trick to teaching these classes is to have a certain level of expectations, but be prepared to reach down to students below that, and work to elevate them. If all you do is fly over their heads, and never swoop down to help them fly higher, then the students in your class are wasting their time and money.

Frankly, I think it's unfair to relegate the teaching of lower level courses to graduate students as a necessary part of their scholarship/fellowship/etc.. It's asking many graduate students to do a job they haven't been trained to do, and for many undergraduate students to spend their time and/or money for a service being offered by an untrained professional.

I'm not saying graduate students can't be good teachers. I've seen some great teaching done by them. But I've seen far more try to teach it as if their students were math majors when they majority of them were far from it.

You want some advice for teaching this level of math? Instigate

This leads to the question of how to instigate dialogue. The answer is the question, literally.

Another thing you should establish early is for students to not be afraid to give wrong answers.

The crazy thing is, at the same time, you also have to be aware of how much you need to cover in a given day, and keeping the class on pace to get there. It's a tricky balancing game, but one that becomes more intuitive as you teach more and more.

Another thing to consider is this: do you want to tell them in advance what they will be learning that day? Many, MANY teachers start the class by writing a list of learning outcomes on the board, a sort of laundry list of things they will earn today. I always have such a list, but I never start the class that way. Why? Because nothing motivates it. I always start by posing some problem we want to try to solve, whether it's an applied problem or a theoretical problem. That problem motivates the math. Of course, you should know the path towards the solution (or rather, a path, as there is often more than one). Guide your students from beginning to end, allowing THEM to develop the math as much as possible. Well-worded questions can guide them down the path to discovery.

Not every student will like this. Many want you to just tell them what to do and how to do it. But guess who takes ownership of that knowledge when it's forced down their throats? No one.

But, if

I tell my students on day one that some of them are not going to like how I run my classes, because I don't just tell them what they are expected to learn at the start of each class. But I guarantee them that by the end of class, they'll know exactly what they are expected to know. Some students don't like the fact that I ask more questions than make statements. But I always make sure at the end, things are tied up in a neat little package: what you learned, rules, formulas, whatever.

It takes a while to internalize the art of teaching by asking questions. I was lucky. Between undergraduate school and graduate school, I worked for three years with a company that taught math to public school kids by asking questions. For three years, I wrote daily lesson plans that were nothing but questions. I never used it as a script during class, but it helped me prepare mentally for how to teach by questioning. And 25 years later, it's still my go-to approach in class (although I don't need to plan nearly as much in advance; most of it just comes naturally). Want to practice? Pick a topic you'll cover in the first week of whatever class you are teaching. Figure out what you want them to learn by the end. Start with a sample problem. Then try to come up with a question sequence that will lead them down the right path. Anticipate wrong answers, and how to get them to see their errors. Ask, ask, ask. (I should admit that yes, sometimes you have to step in and tell them something. After all, you

I've had many colleagues tell me this is a waste of my time in the classroom, that it's quicker and easier to just tell them what to do. And they are right about that: its quicker, and it's easier. But that places emphasis on quantity over quality. You need to ask yourself what is more important: rushing to cover topics A, B and C in a fixed time interval, or investing more time to have a higher quality class experience at the risk of falling behind? I always choose quality over quantity. If towards the end of the term, I see time is running out, then I will default to standard monologue for the sake of time. But I will always choose quality first.

Ok, this was much longer than I initially planned. But I'm just a tad passionate about teaching college and university students. To take students who are convinced they can't do math well (and trust me, in your lower level classes, that will be the majority of them), and have them confidently do that math at the end of the semester, makes it all worthwhile.

Unless you are my graduate school advisor, who told me I was an idiot for focusing on teaching so much. Great mathematician, sucked at teaching. To each their own.

- Joined
- Nov 12, 2017

- Messages
- 11,269

Here is a book you may find helpful: How to Teach Mathematics. The link will take you to a section on graduate teaching assistants (which includes some indication about how much that role can vary). I read an older edition of the book long ago, and found some good ideas in it.

I will begin to teach a math course in the fall semester as a Graduate Assistant in my state. Any helpful advice would be appreciative? Any recommendations on math teaching books or education books will be also helpful?

Thanks,

Cbarker12