For most graduate students, a teaching assistantship will be the primary source of income. Being a teaching assistant is a very rewarding and enjoyable job, but we all must remember that it is a job nonetheless and must be treated with respect. The full range of department policies, such as the ones that cover procedures for being absent from campus during the quarter, can be found at the Senior TA website by clicking on “Department Policies”. It is important that each TA read and understand these policies. The Senior TA page is actually a wealth of information, and is where you will look each quarter to find out your current teaching assignment.
Many first year graduate students worry about being a TA. You should rest assured that our department has an excellent TA training program specially designed to address all possible issues you might encounter as well as to assuage all fears of being jittery at the blackboard, etc. These training sessions are led in a comfortable group setting by the Senior TA and select faculty.
We are also fortunate in that the department has a system with which grad students get to request their preferred courses to TA for. The Senior TA then does his or her best to accommodate everyone. The best way to ensure that you get the appointment you want, though, is to arrange with the professor teaching the course ahead of time. Once you have a thesis advisor, it is also quite common to TA for him or her.
Most importantly, you should try to remember that you can definitely have fun being a TA while simultaneously maintaining the proper level of professionalism. Your students will automatically look up to you, and the learning environment you create will be beneficial not just to the students but to you as an educator.