“Sorry it’s so cold in here,” Engleman said. “But this the office they give us.”
A graduate student by day and an astronomy teacher by night, Engleman and the other physics GTAs all meet in the cluttered, cold office in the Allison Physics Labs next to Parker Hall for their office hours.
“I definitely spend a ton of my time in here,” Engleman said from her desk. “Long office hours are just a part of being a GTA.”
When Engleman isn’t spending time studying in her makeshift office, she is outside teaching her students.
“I enjoy teaching when you find students who actually enjoy being there,” she said.
Engleman said it could be anything from a student’s excited and ready-to-go attitude to the more unexpected moments that make being a GTA worthwhile.
“I had a student show me a nebula that I had never seen before, and he was just casually like, ‘Oh hey, look at this nebula,” Engleman said. “It was really cool he found it all by himself. You don’t see that everyday.”
Despite a more relatable relationship between GTA and student, the typical student perspective of a GTA isn’t always positive.
“The way I perceived GTAs as an undergrad was more helpful,” Engleman said. “But I think some students probably see certain GTAs as annoying.”
Engleman said a GTA’s age could influence how he or she is treated by students.
“You probably have more respect when you are older because your students don’t view you as a student,” Engleman said.
Winn Carroll, junior in history, said he has had his fair share of young GTAs, two of whom taught his composition classes.
“It was hard to take those classes seriously,” Carroll said, “mainly because the teachers weren’t that much older than me.”
Carroll said one of his GTAs didn’t exactly take the class seriously either.
“You could tell teaching wasn’t her thing,” Carroll said. “She’d even talk about how she didn’t actually want to be a teacher; it was just one of the requirements.”
Carroll said his other GTA used her younger age to her advantage in connecting with her students.
“She used ‘South Park’ as one of our topics and showed us the cartoon’s underlying social commentary,” Carroll said. “It really kept the class engaged because we were learning about something we could relate to.”