Being a FYS Teacher’s Assistant: A Look at Jillian Zook

Jillian Zook, a Sophomore, has been working as a TA for the First Year Seminar “Trials of Conscience” since the beginning of the year. Since Jillian took the seminar as a Freshman, she now has the experience to help students who are in the position she was in last year.

Sometimes when a student finishes a class they did well in, their professor asks them to come back to be a Teacher’s Assistant for said class. Jillian was lucky enough to be one of those students. “Since my professor asked me to TA for the class, there was no application process, I just simply accepted the position.” After that, Jillian went into the Student Employment Office, filled out paperwork to get a Work Authorization Card, and started working as a TA. Indeed, sometimes jobs at Bates just fall into student’s laps.

The nature of the FYS “Trial Of Conscious” comes with a very complicated strategy element, so the professor of the class “asked three of us in the FYS last year to help out the students this year,” states Jillian. As a Teacher’s Assistant, Jillian has two periods of office hours per week in which students in the class can come ask Jillian questions about the subject matter of the seminar. “This can be anything from getting help with a speech, to how to apply quotes from the text to specific arguments, to advice on strategy for the ‘games,’” says Zook.

When it comes to scheduling, Jillian works 2 hours per week, and she arranges her meeting times when she’s free as well as when the most students are free to meet. “Whenever I decide to have office hours I send out an email to the students in the class telling them when and where to find me.”

Jillian’s favorite part of the job is being involved in a class that she loved taking when she a Freshman while also having a different viewpoint due to her knowledge of the future subplots of the seminar. “It’s a ton of fun to still be involved” Jillian says. “What’s also great is I know a lot of the twists that the students don’t know, so its great to watch them as they figure out what is happening and react to some of the surprises”. Although Zook has taken the class before, she’s seeing the course from an entirely new perspective as a Teacher’s Assistant.

As a teacher’s assistant, Jillian finds that she’s learned how to improve her writing and speech delivery by helping others work on those skills themselves. “Its easy to see some of the mistakes in their delivery, and then apply the advice I gave them to myself. Its definitely easier to see flaws in others than in yourself, but once you’ve pointed them out to a student, it’s easy to see that you yourself are making those mistakes also.”

Through this job, Jillian has also learned that to take on responsibility she needs to set hard fast rules for herself. “At the beginning of the semester it was always hard for me to motivate myself to have office hours, but once I sent out the email I was forced to go. So I learned that I need to set definite times for myself to get work done, and then not be able to back out” says Jillian.

Working as a TA has helped Jillian become more diligent when it comes to her workload.“I will definitely be a big help in just getting work done while at school, and then I think that will be projected onto my work ethic in the work place when I graduate, as well as having a better understanding of the material I learned while here at Bates – never a bad thing!”