Being an Assistant Teacher’s Assistant
by Sabrina Zhang
I was enrolled in two weeks of CS01 camp, and those two weeks of camp were in mid-July. Around that time, I approached Ben and Betsy and asked how I could become an aTA. I was told that there were problem sets I needed to complete if I really wanted to become an aTA. I went home and started my work.
There were two weeks near the end of the summer where they had an open space for an aTA, but as the date got closer, it became almost impossible to finish. Some of the material in the problems were hard, and I remembered but didn’t fully know how to use classes, or arrays, or functions, very well. I worked with my dad, who does computer programming (C++) for a living, and he helped me work out some of the problems. I started to worry a little about being an aTA.
Nevertheless, when my work was complete, I was “fully qualified” to help out. On my first day, I came in early, and was anxiously waiting to see who would come for camp. I knew some of the people already, and I also was introduced to more people. My first task was to make sure each computer had all necessary programs installed and that they were working. I slowly got the hang of it and class continued…
However, as the material got harder and the students started their own individual projects, they were requesting more and more complicated elements to be added, and for some of their requests I wasn’t sure how to program them. After a couple tries and many errors on this one project, I felt on the top of the world when the program finally compiled. I was literally cheering and getting stares from the other students around me. From then, helping out got easier for me.
After two weeks of being an aTA, my programming skill substantially increased from the place where it used to be. Even though we didn’t cover any new material that I didn’t already know during those two prior weeks, reviewing the material, especially the harder concepts, really helped me. I became so familiar with classes and using them, writing different functions, writing reasonable variable names, and many other useful important concepts in programming. Not only did I learn a lot, I had a lot of fun during breaks with the students, and I met a lot of new people from all around the area. Being an aTA was super fun and I will definitely request to do it again in a future camp.