Tips For IT TAs

The world of education can be a daunting place for first time teachers. This is perhaps more true for teachers of Information Technology than for anyone else. Trying to persuade a group of the benefits of Excel can, at times, be an uphill struggle. Cells can only be so interesting. However, with the help of this guide, you’ll be able to pique the interest of even the most unwilling students.


Turn off the Screen

When you begin to outline what the lesson will contain, make sure the students have turned their screens OFF. Anything, from a cursor to a log in screen, can be a distraction to a student. Make sure that you are the sole focus of their attention before you begin to teach. Should you need to deliver instruction to the whole group at any point during the lesson, have everyone turn off their screens prior to speaking, whatever they’re doing. They won’t lose their progress and won’t be distracted.


Know Your Stuff and Check Your Gear

Nothing is worse than starting a lesson, only to realise that something has gone wrong. With computers, a malfunction of any kind can spell disaster – both for the flow of the lesson and for your credibility with the students. Do everything possible to prevent any mishaps occurring. Also be sure to familiarise yourself with all lesson content before you begin: be clear and concise with what you say and how you say it. It’s also a good idea to use lab management software should you wish to do a demonstration on everyone’s screen at once.


Watch Their Screens

The temptations of the internet can often prove too much for some students. Although most of the time it will be obvious when someone has wandered off task, some students are experts at hiding what they’re doing. Be sure to always check the task bar whenever you are wondering around the computer lab checking on progress. Don’t tolerate any distraction from the task that you have set them. This will only result in students getting the impression that you don’t care what they’re getting up to. It is also a good idea to be sure of the school’s policies concerning computer use. Make sure you know in advance of the lesson whether or not students are allowed to do things like access their email and go on video sites like YouTube. If you are clear about what is and isn’t acceptable in your lessons, then the students will be too.

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