Have you ever had an experience so incredible you wish you could do it over again? I know I certainly have. If you find yourself finishing up a semester or block class that has been significantly moving and life changing, becoming a teaching assistant might be the perfect next move. Not only do you get upper-division credit for the course, but you have the opportunity to step into a leadership role and pass your own knowledge off to your peers. This past block, I found myself doing exactly that. This block, as part of my independent study "Sex-Positive Feminism", I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be a teaching assistant (or, T.A.) for "Sexuality and Sexual Outlaws", an Upper Division course at Prescott College. This class is well known on campus for putting on the annual Drag Show at the end of the month.
As a teaching assistant at Prescott College, students are given the opportunity to help the faculty design curriculum for the class. Most teaching assistants have taken the class previously and can offer insight as to what was effective and what else might be offered during the course. Teaching assistants are often given opportunities to teach lessons to the class as well, giving special presentations about what they are studying in relation to the materials being covered during the course. They can serve as intermediaries between students and instructors, but more often than not, the main role of a teaching assistant is to be an additional resource for students who may want an extra hand.
By no means is a teaching assistant's job an easy one. It requires a significant amount of dedication and the ability to seperate your own learning experience from that of the students enrolled in the course. My experience as a teaching assistant was paired with the design and implementation of curriculum in my own independent study. At the beginnning of every Prescott College course, students are asked to submit a learning contract that outlines their learning objectives for the class. In addition to those objectives, the contract also serves as a letter of intent to the instructor, as it gives students a chance to say how they plan on completing their objectives and how they wish to be evaluated. An independant study contract is not very different, except for the fact that the student is also required to create their own course description and submit it for approval before being registered for their independent study.
Independant studies and Teaching Assistant experiences are just two examples of how you, as a student at Prescott College, have the ability to tailor a class to your own level or even create your own class to best suit your needs. That's why stdents do so well and have so much fun here--we get to decide what we want to take out of a class....well, that, and the fact that we can dress up like Lady Gaga or Jermaine Stewart and sing and dance about gender and sexual equality in the annual drag show... :)