~from intern (and GTA) Joyce Bohling
Being a graduate teaching assistant for Comp 150 is hard work. It certainly has its rewards, from the top-notch professional experience to the joy of getting to know the other GTAs and my cool, funny, and smart first-year students. Plus there’s financial rewards; you’re not rich, but you’re not in debt, either, and for a grad student in the humanities, that’s saying something.
But it also, at times during the semester, takes over your entire life. For every hour in the classroom, there are many more hours spent reading, lesson prepping, updating the course website, communicating with students, and of course, the ever-dreaded grading. Here’s one example of what a busy day in the life of a GTA looks like for me.
7:00 am: Hit the snooze button four times and revel in the warmth of my blankies, until finally crawling out of the covers and into my sweater.
7:30 am: Breakfast and tea; immediately start browsing my files and the web, scrounging up teaching materials for today’s lesson.
8:00 – 9:00 am: Do laundry, empty the dishwasher, make my bed, get dressed, brush my teeth, etc. Adulting.
9:00 – 10:00 am: More tea (green this time); create a PowerPoint and more finalized lesson for my class this afternoon.
10:00 am: Realize (oops!) that some of the materials I need to do my work are in my office. Leave the laundry running in the drier, eat a couple of kiwis, and bundle up like a snow beast in preparation for my venture into the arctic (i.e. my bike ride to the bus station).
10:15 am: Make it to the bus station just as the bus is departing; sprint toward the back door until the driver catches my eye and lets me in. “Safe!” shouts my imaginary umpire.
10:30 – 11:15 am: Work on my Canvas course sites at my office in Aylesworth Hall. Here’s the poster hanging above my desk:
Plus this slightly more comforting reminder:
11:15 am: Bundle back up and ride over to Eddy Hall to print all of my materials for today’s lesson.
11:45 am: Bundle back up (again) to scooch over to the LSC, where all of the CO150 GTAs and instructors are attending a colloquium. They feed us soup and salad (nom nom veggies), and I get to see my friends.
The presentation is about the services provided by Resources for Disabled Students and how instructors can help accommodate students with disabilities. I think the service miniature horse with a little bitty harness who appears on their PowerPoint is pretty adorable.
12:50 – 1:00 pm: Jump on my bike and sprint like a super-hero across campus, once again avoiding a trip to the emergency room by dodging oblivious pedestrians, skateboarders, and overly aggressive bicyclists, and make it to Scott Hall just in time to teach my 17 students. For the first time in weeks, all 17 are present.
1:00 – 1:50 pm: Impart my sage words of wisdom on my young protégés, i.e. ramble on at the front of the classroom like the nerd that I am while my students stare blankly at me, thinking, “What’s with this nutty woman?”, i.e. teach
1:50 – 2:50 pm: Jump on my bike, sprint back across campus to Clark where my other 18 students are waiting, rinse and repeat.
2:50 – 3:50 pm: Head to my grad seminar in Eddy, where I munch pretzels, famished, and realize, to my very slight panic, that the deadline for our final project is a weak earlier than I had thought. Oops woops.
3:50 – 4:10 pm: Find Marnie to collect my paperwork and bike-rush it over to the graduate school. Because I’m a very responsible grad student who always gets her paperwork in well in advance of the deadline. (No sarcasm. None whatsoever.)
4:10 – 4:30 pm: Step out of the Student Services building just in time to see the Max coming up the hill; sprint like a mad woman and arrive at the bus station just in time to hear the bus driver announce that there’s no room for any more bikes. Get back on my bike and haul my cold and hungry butt home. I know I’m cold and hungry because I make it home in record time.
4:45 – 5:15 pm: Cut up a kabocha squash and pop it in the oven to roast. Take picture of said kabocha squash because I’m also a food blogger and in the habit of taking pictures of my food. Finish folding the laundry I left in the drier this morning.
5:15 – 6:15 pm: Eat my roasted squash with a salmon burger and drink peppermint tea, read blogs, check Facebook, veg.
6:15 – 7:15 pm: Do some work finishing up a story for my internship here on the English department blog.
7:15 – 7:45 pm: Pull up a student essay with every intention of grading the thing, only to realize I can’t concentrate and my brain is all over the place. I decide to let it go. On the one hand, this means I’ll have more work to do tomorrow to get myself caught up. On the other hand, grading takes my full concentration and energy, and I know I shouldn’t do it if I’m not feeling up to it. I drink more peppermint tea and eat dark chocolate.
7:45 – 8:30 pm: Start to get ready to go to swing dance, just as my roommate, also a GTA, comes home. We commiserate about the emotional roller coaster of teaching first-year students.
8:30 – 10:30 pm: Drive to campus for the weekly CSU swing dance! It’s kind of dead tonight—more and more people have been staying home because of finals season approaching—but the dancing and talking with friends still helps me de-stress.
10:30 – 11:00 pm: Come home and wake up my roommate, who has dozed off on the couch trying to do work. Engage in deep intellectual discussion about feminism until I decide I really need to go to bed. Brush my teeth and all that, then tuck myself in, bracing myself for a long day of grading ahead.