This semester has been my first real teaching experience, though by no means my first grading experience. I always knew I was a rather atypical student, but it's really been driven home this term. Here are a few of the things I've learned:
1. There are students who will come to office hours without a coherent question or concern, because they were told they ought to take advantage of them. They will sit there in silence, hoping someone else will start asking questions. It will be awkward the first few times.
2. Some students legitimately expect me to grade their assignment before they turn it in.
3. Prompt replies to emails are expected, even at 1 AM.
3a. These students are the least prompt about respond to requests via email.
4. There is a roughly inverse relationship between the length of a lab report and the quality of analysis.
5. Any simple assignment can be made complicated. Any complicated assignment can be made impossible.
6. A minimum number of things will break every lab session. This includes things you are breaking on purpose.
7. If you write lots of comments on reports, students ignore them. If you don't write them, they complain about the lack of feedback.
8. The native English speakers make the most interesting grammatical errors.
9. The department admins in charge of registration at GiantU have no respect for prerequisites, and will override the system so students can graduate "on time". Furthermore, our undergraduate advising system is not working. I would like be able to discuss moments of inertia in a junior level class without losing half of them because they haven't taken statics yet.
I've been writing up a list of comments for improving the course for next year, as requested by the professor. It's been a fun and interesting experience, and I'm glad he's encouraging us to reflect. I've also been flattered by the students asking if I'm TAing next semester so they can be in my section (sorry, fellowship says no). On the other hand, I'm excited by next semester. It will be the first semester since I was 5 where I have no classes of any type. Maybe I'll get real research done (ha!).