Ball State Graduate School Blog

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A Day in the Life of a Teaching Assistant


Welcome to A Day in the Life of a Graduate Assistant. This three-part series will introduce you to graduate students with varying types of assistantships and provide you with a glimpse into what a typical day looks like for them. Today, we’re featuring a teaching assistant. To learn more about the different types of assistantships Ball State offers, check back for upcoming posts in this series. 


Photo Courtesy of Kourtney Maison

Name: Kourtney Maison
Assistantship Position: Teaching Assistant: COMM210, Assistant Basic Course Director, Ball State University Debate Team Assistant
Graduate Program & Anticipated Graduation Date: Communication Studies, May 2016
Hometown: El Dorado, Kansas

Brief description of what you do in your role: As a Teaching assistant, I’m responsible for teaching and enriching the lives of a group of students each semester. I work with the COMM210 programs (Foundations of Public Comminucations), teaching students communication theory and public speaking.

As an assistant to the BSU Debate Team, I help students develop speaking and critical thinking abilities via debate through practice and competition.We travel around the country to debate, and we’re pretty awesome. We’ve won plenty of awards and championships with the brilliant Mr. Mike Bauer at the helm.

As the Assistant Basic Course Director (ABCD), I answer to the Basic Course Director (Dr. Katherine Denker), and attend to various details and facets of the COMM210 curriculum. Dr. Denker is always on top of her game, so I’m usually in the background, following her directions and making sure everything goes perfectly.


Photo Courtesy of Kourtney Maison

What’s one task you do every day? I always ask Dr. Denker what she needs me to do. While teaching is pretty straightforward, as an ABCD, my job duties can change from day to day, so it’s absolutely essential that I stay in contact (even on weekends and holidays).

First thing you do when you wake up: Turn on my heater. I can’t keep it on overnight (because fire) but I hate the cold. So as soon as I wake up, on it goes. And, like any good millennial, I check my phone for missed calls and messages.

Typical breakfast: A glass of water and a handful of blueberries. If I’m feeling particularly daring, some eggs.

First thing you do when you get to work: Plug in my laptop and get coffee from the office kitchen. We have coffee on deck most of the day, and I teach early in the morning during the school year, so the caffeine helps me be chipper and enthusiastic while I double-check my PowerPoints.

Describe the rest of your morning: During the school year, I teach in the mornings, and after that, I’ll hang out in the office so I can chat with my colleagues and teachers as I work. They’re really smart and funny, and I try to spend as much time around them as I can. They make me smarter and funnier.


Photo Courtesy of Kourtney Maison

It’s 10 a.m.–what are you doing? Definitely watching my favorite morning talk show, Good Mythical Morning. I sneak it in between teaching and performing my ABCD duties. It’s a nice way to keep myself joyful.

Go-to lunch: Sushi, or salad and a bean burger. I try not to eat fast-food for lunch, and the Atrium has some good healthy options.

How you beat an afternoon energy-slump: I’ll talk with my coworkers! My work is really engaged, so sometimes it also helps to do something mindless, like a quick game or a short walk. A lot of my work is self-directed, so if I feel particularly bogged down, it’s perfectly okay to take a break and come back to my work later.


Photo Courtesy of Kourtney Maison

Favorite part of your day: When I get done with work, right before I go to debate practice, all of my coworkers are in the office discussing all kinds of things, and although there is no pressure to be critical, it is welcome. I love that business and buzz. That’s where I learn about pop-culture stuff (because I am woefully out of touch).

After-work routine: Once I get home, I’ll watch some Masterchef Junior (if it’s not in season, Hell’s Kitchen), because I need Gordon Ramsay in my life. Then, I call my twin sister and talk to her about her day.

How you wind down at night: MASTERCHEF JUNIOR. There is nothing more uplifting than seeing Gordon Ramsay comfort a seven year old after they fail to make a croque en bouche. Or popsicles.

Last thing you do before you go to bed: Check my schedule for the next day. I’m really forgetful, so I have to triple check everything to make sure I’m not forgetting things. And, of course, I remind myself how lucky I am to have a job that I enjoy, coworkers I like, and a future I look forward to experiencing.

Thanks for sharing with us, Kourtney! Stay tuned for parts two and three of this series for a chance to learn about research and administrative assistantships. 

If you’re starting a new graduate assistant position in the fall, be sure to join our Graduate Assistant webinar on Tuesday, July 14. You’ll learn about the expectations for a graduate assistant and have an opportunity to take part in a live Q&A with a panel of current graduate assistants. Register now.  


2 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of a Teaching Assistant

  1. Pingback: A Day in the Life of a Research Assistant | Ball State Graduate School Blog

  2. Pingback: A Day in the Life of an Administrative Assistant | Ball State Graduate School Blog

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