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Junior James Glaser works in physics teacher Malcolm Smith's room during his teacher assistant time. Photo by Anna Xu

Teacher assistant removed as enrollment option

The 2019-20 school year will see many revisions to credit opportunities, said director of counselling Betsy Jones. A major change is the elimination of teachers assistants, something that Jones does not foresee ever returning as an option, which is currently a popular course request with 250 teacher assistants at RBHS, according to Jones.

Jones said the original purpose of a teacher’s assistant was to alleviate growing class sizes when the school district cut teachers and also to provide students who need to fulfill Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHAA) requirements an opportunity to fill a course slot with relatively lax responsibilities.

“However it’s evolved to [where some students] just use it as like another AUT,” Jones said, “but they’re getting [.25] credit for it.”

For next year, Jones said teachers who still want teacher assistants can offer an independent study; however, it would provide no credit.

“Because there were a hand full of folks that were using them for appropriate reasons,” Jones said, “teachers who want a TA can offer an independent study. But they are not student initiated at all.”

Junior James Glaser currently serves as a teachers assistant to physics teacher Malcolm Smith. Glaser believes he’s apart of the handful of students that did a good job in carrying out the designated duties of an assistant.

“Some days are fairly busy, like if Mr. Smith’s freshmen are working with Excel I’m more focused on helping than if he’s just teaching a new thing,” Glaser said. “Mostly though, I’m able to switch between helping with the students, making copies and working on other [classwork].”

After a semester of assisting experience, Glaser understands where students could take advantage of the system and used the time not for its intended purpose; however, he still disagrees with the decision to eliminate the option altogether.

“I think that TAs are a good option so even though I understand concerns, I’m sad to see them go,” Glaser said. “I think TAs could’ve been made more rigorous by encouraging teachers to assign more tasks and make sure that students known that it’s not an automatic pass.”

Junior Sarah Keely is also a teacher’s assistant. Unlike Glaser, she agrees with Jones that the program is flawed and should go.

“I think if teachers who really need TAs can show what they need them for and can request students to [be] a TA, then it’s a program to continue,” Keely said, “but the way it’s set up right now isn’t really fair for both teachers and students.”

So far, Keely said her teacher has not given her much responsibility, so she generally uses the time as an AUT.

“I haven’t had much to do, [but] my main responsibility has been putting graded work in the grade book on schoology and on paper,” Keely said.

Entering grades in the grade book is also a problem Jones said when abolishing teacher assistants. While the intention may be good, Jones said it’s “really a confidentiality issue.”

Jones said the program also presents safety liability issues such as if the student goes off campus during the time. While these are all concerns, Jones said the bottom line is most teacher assistants don’t deserve the credit.

“The kids want what is the least amount of work,” Jones said. “It’s a problem when they’re earning credit for it.”

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4 comments

Karina February 5, 2019 at 1:29 pm

I thought the teacher assistant position sounded interesting, but it is true that the credit isn’t well deserved. The TA position is similar to an AUT except for the fact of grading papers. I have no opinion on the removal as I can see both sides of the argument.

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Amira R McKee February 5, 2019 at 9:32 am

I do think that there are some students using a TA blocks as AUT, but many that are actually being helpful to the teachers. I believe that removing the credit attached to TA blocks will remove the incentive to be a TA.

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Snowy February 3, 2019 at 4:14 pm

I think, while I personally don’t have an opinion on it, that it’s good then there is a substitute for this kind of teacher aid – advisory mentors. These people will probably be better suited for the job since they must be interviewed for the position.

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Alma Jarbou January 31, 2019 at 8:52 pm

I had no idea that students could be teacher assistants! I might try it out when I’m older!

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