I just spent a few hours this afternoon helping some students with the course content while they prepare for their first exam, which is tomorrow. I love it, but it completely obliterates my ability to focus on anything. I find a few things particularly stressful about the way my partial participation in this course have shaken out:
- I have absolutely no idea what goes on in the labs. I don't know what their lab homeworks are all about, or how the concepts are getting explained to them in lab for how to do things in the homework and lab reports. I don't have time to go take the whole course with them and participate in labs, so I am totally useless at helping them figure out the labs, and I am not likely to become useful anytime soon.
- The study methods involve working from previous example exams, which don't sync up with where we are at in the course this time of this year. They end up being incredibly stressed out and wasting a lot of their time and mental energy trying to understand how to do these problems that they have no reason to be able to do yet.
- Since I don't have a lot of time to spend on this aspect of things this year (and have not been asked to spend much time--my "official" duties are only a total of 10 hours of lecture) it stressed ME out a lot to find I don't know how to help them understand the stuff that isn't my direct responsibility or for which I missed the associated lecture by the primary professor. I end up needing to do quite a LOT more homework in order to be able to help them understand things that I a) haven't thought about in detail in years and b) mostly have my own internal, instinctive cartoon explanation for anyway.
I'm sure anybody who has had to develop and teach a whole course is saying "Boooo freaking hoooo!" but hey, the point here is that partially team-teaching a course that was developed and is administered by someone else without looking like a total moron and being mostly useless to the students is a LOT more work than you think on paper. I'm trying to make sure I get involved in as many aspects as possible so I can keep up with these things but by then it's like I might as well be teaching full-time. Oh well, I still love it, I just want to make sure I don't end up leading anyone astray by having the wrong way of explaining things to them so they miss out points on their exams.