Teaching Assistant - Thomas More

Teaching Assistant - Thomas More
Image by me. Generated by Midjourney.

During my time at the Thomas More University of Applied Sciences I was a teaching assistant for the course Linux Essentials. Between September and November 2022 I was teaching first year students about Linux. This course consists of the very basics of Linux and answers questions like "What is a kernel?", "What is a shell?" and "What is BASH?".

Experience

In my secondary school I had the opportunity to teach my fellow students about a few IT related things, for example the git version control system. My experience with this was that students are generally not really interested in actually learning interesting things, but rather just do just enough to pass their year and get their grade. There are of course always some exceptions to this, but this was the general feeling I had in secondary school.

I was thus very interested if college students would act the same way. When I got to be a teaching assistant I was very relieved to see that this all changed. During this course I had the opportunity to help lots of students and get to know more about them. This eventually led me to a few insights:

  • Types of students
  • Multiple ways of explaining something

Types of students

This was a very nice insight to gain, and not only applies to students, but to more people. Some students are great at self-study, whilst others really need the guidance and coaching of a classroom environment. My key takeaway from this is to listen to the person, and help them in the best way possible.

Multiple ways of explaining something

When a student asked me a question, I answered it in a technical way that made sense from a technical point of view. However, I was dealing with students from a lot of different backgrounds, of which a few never even heard about Linux or a kernel or anything related. Therefore, I found out that a good solution to this was to abstract the technical things into more common day things. I also found that it was a good idea to point students into the direction of where and how to find useful information about certain topics. For example the Linux man pages, StackOverflow and online documentation.

Summary

All-in-all I really liked doing this. I got to improve upon my soft-skills and refine them. I will definitely be able to apply this knowledge in the professional field.