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Teaching Resources

Throughout this course, we will be using various resources and references.

Below are some of the teaching tips that we outlined during our initial lectures.


  • Don’t take control of the student’s keyboard (without asking).
    • Doesn’t apply as much in time of Covid (over Zoom), but even so.
  • Don’t give away the answer (unless a student is really stuck / is extremely frustrated, the answer is very trivial).
  • Don’t be condescending.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know but let’s find out”.
  • Don’t undermine the course, the lab, the instructor, your peers.
  • Don’t use terms that students don’t know
    • Or if you do, “remind them” what the term means.


  • Keep your cool even if the student is anxious or belligerent.
  • Keep the interaction interesting.
  • Refer to the lab/homework write up and syllabus where appropriate.
  • If you don’t know how to handle a situation, inform the TA or instructor.
  • Reflect on your tutoring/TA sessions to thoughtfully and deliberately improve.

Key Take-aways (Peer Mentoring Activity)

  • Gauging how a student is feeling may be important; you may need to adjust your demeanor/tone with the student accordingly to make them more comfortable or to diffuse stress.
  • It’s important not to trivialize students’ problems.
  • Ask clarifying questions at the beginning, before trying to tackle a problem head-on.
  • Ask students to explain what they’ve already tried.
  • Let students describe what their code is doing / what the problem is; don’t try to just look at the code first and figure it out on your own.
  • Lead the student towards the issue rather than telling them where the issue is in their code.
  • Encourage students to experiment with their code themselves rather than giving them direct answers.
  • Refrain from telling students whether their code is right and have them walk through an example or run their code themselves after making modifications.

If you don’t know

During the lab or the office hours, if a student asks you a question that you don’t know how to answer refrain from just giving them some answer.

  • Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know but let’s find out”.
  • You can also tell them that you are not sure what might be going wrong or what the answer to their administrative question is, but you’ll find out
    • ask the TA or another ULA that is assigned to the section (you can message them privately on Zoom or use Slack)
    • if that’s an option, message/ask the instructor
  • if your course is using Piazza or Gauchospace’s Q2A forum or some other mechanism for students to ask questions, you can also tell the student to post their question there and assure them that it will be answered soon.