The other day I went to my first class as a Teaching Assistant. I didn't have to take the lecture but had to discuss any doubts the students had. I went and sat in the front of the class. The prof. introduced us first. I liked the way I had to wave out to the class when the prof. introduced me. I had wondered how I was supposed to acknowledge the intro. Should it be a brief nod and a slight wave? or should I wave like Sonia Gandhi during election rallies. Well, I can't remember what I did. But no one laughed. So it was fine I guess.
After the prof finished his brief material for the hour, the TAs and the prof were open for discussion. The other two TA and the prof were getting all the attention. Yeah I was NBD (No Bhav Dude) here also. Now why would they avoid me? Do I look dumb? Or did they think that they wouldn't understand me? Or did I have body odor? I should have used Axe. Then all the ladies would be swarming around me. I tried to look disinterested by flipping through the text book. Finally someone came up to because the others were occupied. I was nervous. I hope I could answer his doubt. Luckily his doubt was really dumb or as the protocol goes, the doubt was 'simple'. No question is deemed dumb here.
Then some guy asked me a doubt from the homework. Now the homework was given the previous day and I didn't expect anyone to start the homework right away. So I myself hadn't gone through it. And considering that I did the corresponding course 4 years back and I have the retention of a large sized sieve, I was in a spot of bother. I had no idea how to solve the problem he was stuck with. Hmm, what to do? Okay, lets do what most profs normally do when they don't know the answer. Act knowledgeable if the student is confused or act as if you can't follow the student's doubt if the student appears confident. My case was the former. So I said it was a easy problem and that any hints I give might give the answer away. In the mean time I was racking my brains for the solution. I said a few more things like 'it's there in the text book', 'the prof covered it in class', 'you will get it if you apply yourself a bit'. Finally I figured out the solution and told him that he had tried enough and I would tell him the answer. And with a flourish I started scribbling the steps of the problem. He was happy to have got the answer. And I was happy to have managed to wriggle myself out of the sticky situation.
The rest of the discussion hour went smoothly as most students left soon. Good for them and me. Finally the hour ended. I hurried out. I swore to myself to be better prepared next time and cursed the undergrad Daniel for not studying properly. I was also thankful to my profs, no not for teaching me well, but for teaching me how to handle sticky situations. One up Prof. Daniel!