By Natalie Mack
Have you ever had that one teacher’s assistant in your class, who you pretty much learn everything from? Who is your favorite person to go to with any problem you might have? Well, that has certainly been me many times. Throughout my education at Nantucket Elementary School, I was always in a class with TAs. I can recall that during math lessons, I wouldn’t understand what the teacher was trying to explain. Being too embarrassed to ask any questions and not wanting to slow everyone else down, I always looked to the TA in the room, for one-on-one help. In almost every case, they would sit down with me and explain it to me in a special way. I didn’t think of this then, but I sure am glad they did so.
As I said goodbye to my elementary school years and entered Cyrus Peirce Middle School, I was suspected to have a learning disability. At the beginning of sixth grade, I was tested for one and shortly after, diagnosed with a math learning disability called Dyscalculia. Dyscalculia is the math equivalent to Dyslexia, a reading and writing learning disability. Once this discovery was made, the many long nights of trying to memorize the multiplication tables, but not succeeding, made sense. Exceeding in all areas, except math, finally had a reason.
As I’ve traveled through middle school and most of high school with this disability, I have come to appreciate TAs even more. Now don’t get me wrong, all of my teachers are great. They’re patient, talented, and always willing to give extra help. However, for me, sometimes TAs know just what to say. In most cases, they have a different outlook on a certain topic, which always helps me grasp the content more easily.
I suspect that you are reading this thinking, who cares? Why are you telling us about how great TAs are? Here’s why: I think that TAs are underappreciated. I realize that I have a biased opinion, seeing as I’ve worked with them my whole educational career. However, I feel that we should appreciate and recognize TAs for all that they do. For being there and keeping up with the class in case any student should fall behind or struggle to understand a topic. For sticking behind with the students who need extra help, so the teacher can move on and challenge the rest.
“I have worked with TAs for the past 3 years. Whenever I have a question I always have someone to ask. If I don’t feel comfortable asking in front of the whole class, I can just ask the TA. They are also there to help me read things that I would struggle with. They have really helped me to improve my education,” Julia Marks, a sophomore at NHS with Dyslexia expressed. As Marks stated, they are always there to help. Having TAs in the classroom not only affects the students who are struggling but the students who are looking to be challenged. This can be offered to them by the teacher, knowing the TA is able to help the struggling students at a different and slower pace.
All in all, teaching assistants at NHS deserve to be recognized and appreciated. They are an essential part of learning online and in-person for each student in the classroom, as well as an invaluable addition to the classroom for many teachers.