The KTBYTE TA Experience | By TA Stephanie H.

Becoming a TA

The title of a teaching assistant reflects years of experience in programming knowledge in addition to getting new responsibilities, showing off a student’s capability and maturity to teach at a young age. However, as outstanding as the name sounds, it is not too difficult to earn this position for devoted learners (programming isn’t as hard as it seems!). At KTBYTE, students are promoted to the new role of a teaching assistant after demonstrating proficient algorithmic knowledge while taking the CS02 or CSAP classes.

I became a teaching assistant a year after I started taking lessons at KTBYTE. I started computer science rather late compared to some other students, taking my first class, CS00w, at fourteen as a high school freshman. Most students attend this class at around ages twelve or thirteen. Afterward, I had a rigorous schedule, taking both the CS01 and CS02 classes within half a year online. It was a challenging but manageable routine, and even with a not-so-consistent performance in the CS02b class, I had picked up more than enough to take CSAP. It was during this latter class that I was promoted.

During this time, I lived away from the Lexington offices where the main KTBYTE headquarters were located. Luckily for me, they had a branch in Worcester, a city near where I lived. They needed a new teaching assistant for a class there, and I was one of their only clients in the area. As a result, I was contacted and found my first job within the next week.

Being a TA

Being a TA may be the first teaching experience for many students at KTBYTE. I feel fortunate to have such an experience at a young age as I learned several core skills throughout. While I felt uneasy at first, I learned to find harmony with the students and became more aware of my influence; this gave me more confidence with my decisions. 

As an anxious person, I was nervous during the first few weeks with this new responsibility. Mostly, I was afraid of making mistakes that would impact the trust that students had towards me. However, as I grew closer with my students, they became comfortable with me, and the environment became less stressful. I adopted an easygoing attitude, and they began to see me as a friend, asking for help when they needed without worrying.

During the first semester I worked, I was an assistant (as the name TA implies). One of the teachers taught the class over a remote online class format, and I was available in-person to help struggling students. Often, I found students may only need minor guidance. On the other hand, some students may struggle more and not understand important concepts taught in class. While the teacher delivers the ideas of the lesson, I found that my role as a TA was to review the fundamentals and details individually with those who needed it.

During the second semester, while I was still technically a teaching assistant, I also became a teacher. This time, I was managing two classes over a remote class. One class was taught by the actual teacher, and the other class was guided mainly by me. I became more aware of how different students learned and the variety of thought in just one classroom!

Patience with students is one of the most essential qualities while teaching. Because of the fun and experimental nature of programming, it is not rare for their curiosity to get out of hand. As a teaching assistant, I try to avoid calling students out or scorning them for misbehaving. Instead, I would try to approach it through an amicable or even humorous way.  They still become aware of their misbehavior but do not feel embarrassed or lose trust towards the instructor; this way, I can guide them without deterring their interest in learning. 

Without proper direction, computer science can be difficult to master. As students dive deeper into this subject, complex concepts take more focus and understanding to grasp. Because of this, I find myself explaining theoretical concepts and complicated ideas using whiteboard drawings and creative analogies. In addition, I use other sources online such as simulations and games that students can interact with to understand the lesson better. I found that I also needed enthusiasm for the students to stay engaged and process the information quickly.

In computer science, having the position as a teaching assistant at such a young age is impressive, appealing to colleges and job opportunities. Overall, the experience of being a TA not only enabled me to share my knowledge with others at KTBYTE, but has also taught me crucial leadership skills to guide and understand people. These skills can benefit me for the rest of my life, beyond what the typical class can offer.

It’s only at KTBYTE that students can get opportunities as great as mine.

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