Student - October 15, 2018

Blog: The other side

Donatella Gasparro

Students tend to take a lot for granted, as blogger Donatella Gasparro discovered when she started working as a teaching assistant. Her message from the other side: think carefully before you judge your teachers.

© Sven Menschel

The very first day of class that I had here was quite prophetic. I looked at the coordinator while she was presenting the course, and said out loud, without thinking: I want to do her job.

A few months later, I found myself being her student assistant for that course, and some time after that, being the assistant for more courses of the chair group. Exactly one year later, I was introducing the course that she was introducing the abovementioned prophetic day.

Fascinating, right? It is.

It is fascinating and inspiring first of all because, in Wageningen, things happen. If you want something to be reality, you’ll find the means to make it come true. For the sake of putting this statement into context: in the country I come from, the position of teaching assistant doesn’t even exist.

The other side

Being a teaching assistant is a great opportunity that really provides students with insights into the academic world. Plus, it allows you to develop several skills which may turn out to be very useful in your career.

In the country I come from, the position of teaching assistant doesn’t even exist.

Being ‘on the other side’ – the teaching side – also, and maybe most importantly, allowed me to understand how difficult it is to make a course work and run smoothly. As students, we often take too many things for granted (especially here, where education facilities and services really spoil us!), while in the background, there is so much thought and work put into the coordination and organisation, even for the smallest of things. Teachers have to deal with a lot of work that goes way beyond teaching per se, including crazy scheduling and room matching, which become even more complicated with increasing numbers of students.

In all of this, feedback between teachers and students plays a very relevant role. And I’ve never seen the openness to feedback rival this university’s anywhere else. Students truly get the chance to shape the way courses are designed when careful ears listen to their suggestions.

A reason why

So, my message from the other side, eventually, is: give your contribution with feedback in the most lucid and sincere way, always keeping in mind that there’s very often a reason why things are the way they are.

Donatella Gasparro is a master’s student in Organic Agriculture; she hails from Italy.