i'm training my TAs this week, in anticipation of the semester starting a week from today. i was on sabbatical all last year, so i'm coming back after a break, and only one of my six TAs is someone i've worked with before. one other, i knew as a grad student when she was here for her MA (she has now returned for her PhD), but i've never had her in a class and she's never taught for me. the other four are brand spankin' new to me–either brand new students, or were new last year when i wasn't around anyway. sooo, i kicked off our training with some fun time where we could all get to know each other. they have to do introductions and icebreakers during class on the first day, so i thought we'd do a few ourselves to give them different ideas of what to do (and learn things about each other in the process). this was a lot of fun for all of us, and i think it helped us bond a little bit, so yay.
but things got a little weird toward the end, when i had them pair up and interview each other for one of the activities: i asked them to learn something "unique" about their conversational partner during the course of their conversation, and then report it back to the group when we were finished. hold onto your hats… the very first person who introduced her partner to all of us reported that she was a certified artificial inseminator for cows. sigh. i worked really hard on controlling my face, while the rest of the TAs made light-hearted jokes or mentioned that they thought it was gross. the woman in question grew up on a dairy farm (which her parents still run), and she joked that when she tells her students that she's a farmer they always give her totally blank stares, because she doesn't really "look the part." this, i admit, is true–i had absolutely no idea. (although i never get too surprised by these kinds of tidbits, because of where i live.) anyhow, i sat there distracted for the next few minutes, wondering just how many awkward conversations and/or silences i'd be having over the course of the year.
later in the day, another TA (who had just minutes earlier described herself as "just so incredibly compassionate") told a story about how on thanksgiving, she smothers the turkey with mayonnaise before cooking it. sigh times two.
my TAs all seem like really nice people and i'm not trying to bag on them, but these were two details i really could have lived without.