GAs juggle roles on both sides of the classroom

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GAs juggle roles on both sides of the classroom

Grad assistant, Emily Meyers, works in her office. Photo by Holly Diller

Straddling the line between student and instructor, graduate assistants have a unique perspective.

Meagan Ingersoll, Alex Viscioni, Andrew Minnick and Emily Meyers are a few of the GAs on campus who balance being both instructor and student.

Ingersoll and Viscioni work with students in Fundamentals of Speech, using materials provided by Ms. Jeanine Aumiller, the instructor of record for the class.

Aumiller said though her GAs must come to her to have their lesson plans approved, she does allow them creative leeway with how they present the material to their students.

Aumiller said she works closely with the GAs, especially during their first semester of teaching.

Ingersoll, a second-year GA, said she was first drawn to the position because she wanted to impact freshmen through teaching, like her speech teacher impacted her when she was a freshman.

Ingersoll also said the position has provided valuable work experience and has allowed her to learn through both her interaction with her coworkers and her graduate classes.

Ingersoll said since becoming a GA, she has had a lot more one-on-one interaction with faculty than she did during her undergrad years, and she has enjoyed participating in faculty meetings.

“It means a lot to feel like you’re being heard and you’re being invested in,” Ingersoll said.

Alex Viscioni said he became a speech GA for the opportunity to teach freshmen.

“I really wanted to work with freshmen, because that is the most crucial time in a student’s college career,” Viscioni said. “There’s more to the job than just being the teacher—it’s being a mentor and friend.”

As a GA, he said he has learned patience through waiting on papers, grading speeches and answering emails.

Viscioni said he has learned how to get his own work done, while still having an open door to his students whenever they need him.

Another group of graduate assistants are the Greek teaching  GAs.

Dr. Sam Schnaiter of the Bible faculty said he oversees the Greek GAs, but since they are credentialed, they have complete control over their own classrooms, both how they present the material and the material itself.

Minnick, a third-year Greek GA, said he chose the position for the opportunity to teach.

“I really wanted to teach people Greek, because for me it really opened the Scriptures up,” Minnick said.

Minnick said being a GA has improved his time management skills.

“You really have to be disciplined and make your time count, otherwise the one role will overtake the other,” Minnick said, speaking of balancing both roles of teacher and student.

Meyers, a first-year English GA, said she enjoys helping En 102 students. As a GA, Meyers’ duties in En 102 include grading papers, working in the writing center, helping students with group work during class and assisting students who stop by her office.

Because Meyers received her undergrad degree in English education, she especially enjoys when students stop by her office with questions they have about papers and upcoming tests, as that gives her an opportunity to take the role of an instructor.

Meyers said that since transitioning from being an undergraduate student to a graduate assistant, she has been mentored by the English faculty and has seen their hearts for their students.

“I’ve been able to see faculty more as people instead of just as teachers,” Meyers said.

Meyers, who wants to teach English in a middle school or high school after she completes her master’s, said that the experience of being an English GA is developing her into a better teacher.

She said she has learned how different students learn, as well as how to better communicate and relate to others.