I was in your position at one point and I would like to lend some helpful advice as you are entering into being a Learning Assistant for Econometrics. Econometrics is a course that many students find challenging. My MSI sessions were basically full for every session. When you are the Learning Assistant for Econometrics you may end up working with a class that has a different professor than the one you have taken it with. When something like this occurs it’s important that you know it’s okay if you do not know the answer to every question the students ask but be as prepared as possible and feasible. I have recently dealt with this issue and I have realized as long as you are trying the students will understand especially when you say you will get back to them through email or the next MSI session and fulfill what you’ve said. The Econometrics class I worked with for my MSI was challenging because the professor liked to do proofs and I did not have to do these when I took the course with another professor and this is what the students found most challenging. In order for be to help them to the best of my ability, I maintained contact with the TA’s and asked them about the proofs to prepare for MSI and if I came across a question I did not know in MSI I would email the students.
One thing that has really helped in my MSI is to realize that you are the students’ peer and you should try to communicate with them to make them feel more comfortable to participate especially in an upper division because you may find that many of the students attending are the same year as you and may be in your other classes. You need to maintain a balance between being a peer and being a leader. When I showed up early to MSI I would communicate with the students and ask them how class is going to make them feel comfortable prior to the session.
It’s important to remember the different strategies you are taught in Educ96 because they will be something you will use to get students to participate. I usually used one group discussion in the beginning of the session to get through important material and break the students up into to smaller groups to work on homework or any other material for the econometrics class. The students who were not actively involved in the group discussion usually were more talkative in there smaller groups. You can use a variety of these strategies to get students to participate.
One final piece of advice I would like to offer you is to be confident in yourself because if you are not, you may double think what you say and the students can tell if you do not believe it what you are trying to explain. You know the material because you took the class before and did well so don’t underestimate your knowledge. Be confident and talk with confidence because the more you believe in your ability to help the students the greater the likelihood they will get the most out of your MSI session.