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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Students volunteer their time as TAs to decrease teachers’ workloads

After+a+hard+day+of+work%2C+senior+Yao+poses+with+engineering+teacher+Warmuth.
Johnason Yao
After a hard day of work, senior Yao poses with engineering teacher Warmuth.

For many upperclassmen, taking fewer than six academic classes often leaves a hole in their schedule that many seek to fill with some kind of school service for a period. 

Of the few options for school service, dozens  end up being teachers’ assistants (TAs) each year. The job varies by teacher, but many end up helping grade homework, assisting in setting up classroom activities and sometimes doing a variety of other miscellaneous tasks. 

For senior Jarrett Singh, being Spanish teacher Gina Rodriguez’s TA for her Spanish 3 class this year has been a relatively light workload, even though he doesn’t speak Spanish. The most recent Spanish course Singh had taken was Spanish 1B four years ago when he was in eighth grade at Redwood Middle School. Since he can’t grade work or help students due to his lack of Spanish skills, his responsibilities are limited. 

Though Singh had never taken a class with Rodriguez, his schedule left him with a free third period. When he was searching for a class to TA for, Rodriguez offered Singh an opportunity to TA for her.

Since he began assisting Rodriguez, Singh has even noticed slight improvements in his Spanish skills, and he said that his skills have improved from a 0/10 to a 3/10. 

“Since I don’t have enough Spanish knowledge to actually correct things, I just total the points for assignments,” Singh said. “I wanted a quiet workspace, because if I didn’t then I would just goof around with my friends.” 

Unlike Singh, most TAs help a teacher they’ve had in the past. For senior Johnason Yao, assisting Thomas Wang’s Digital Electronics class was an easy choice. 

“I liked Mr. Wang a lot,” Yao said. “And he was teaching the class, so I asked him if I could be his TA.”

For his part, senior Advaith Avadhanam, well known for his advanced skills in science and math, decided to be a TA because of the positive experience he had taking Matt Welander’s AP Physics 1 and 2 course his junior year. Avadhanam’s experience assisting physics has been slightly different to other assistants’ experiences, as he is currently enrolled in the class he assists.

He noted his relationship to the students he assists is slightly different than ones typically formed in an average classroom. 

“Most relationships between TAs and students are pretty formal,” he said. 

Since the majority of the people taking AP Physics C are seniors, their relationship with Avadhanam is much less formal. 

”I like people in my class, they call me Batman,” Avadhanam said. “Sometimes they ask for the stamp, so that they can stamp their homework 20 times.” 

As a current student in AP Physics C, Avadhanam doesn’t grade or test labs for the course. However, he is tasked with helping Welander grade AP Physics 1 & 2 tests, something most TAs don’t do. 

Avadhanam shared that he was first asked to grade assessments by Welander during a TA period where he had nothing else to do. Though many other TAs are not tasked with grading assessments, Avadhanam felt that Welander was comfortable with his skills in Physics when he was asked to grade FRQs. 

His other responsibilities involve “testing new equipment and labs” for AP Physics 1 & 2 and grading homework.

“I guess I didn’t understand before how difficult being a teacher was,” Avadhanam said. “I definitely appreciate them more now.”

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