8 Surreal TA Requests

Ambassador, parrot, cultural observer, news announcer, English helper–these are but a few of the pants I wear in my role as an English Teaching Assistant, or TA. More often than not, I find myself in situations that make me wonder if I’m living in the real world. All signs point to no.

To date, here are the most peculiar requests I’ve gotten from co-teachers:

1) Being asked to explain the “pimp” in “Pimp My Ride.”

2) Being asked to model how to successfully catch a Frisbee…and then getting socked in the mouth by said Frisbee.

3) Being asked to explain the history behind Guy Fawkes.

4) Being told that the school will not be fully bilingual until I hand-draw 18 signs translating “Computer Lab,” “Teacher’s Lounge,” etc. into English.

5) Being asked to comment on the sub-par recycling efforts of the American people.

6) Being asked to lead the students in pronouncing the word “SCREWS!” over and over until they said it correctly.

7) Being asked to talk about the Fourth of July on three separate occasions by the same teacher.

8) Being asked to translate Poe’s The Raven. For the very next class.

If you are or were a Teaching Assistant, what have been some of your strangest, most unexpected requests from teachers and staff?

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7 Comments

  1. “Being asked to explain the history behind Guy Fawkes.” Oh jeeeeez!!

    I didn’t have any bizarre requests, sadly. However, one of the students called me “la rumana” because I guess he called all foreigners that. Weird!

  2. Being asked to get Rihanna’s autography, translate some heavy metal song into Spanish (couldn’t understand a word in English anyway), to dress up as Justin Bieber for the Christmas play – which came yesterday.

    I miss it, though!

  3. Translating songs must be a popular request…I was asked to do Black Eyed Peas “I Gotta Feeling”. Casi imposible! I did Guy Fawkes too…must have learned as much as the kids did! I wonder how many British assistants are asked to explain Thanksgiving?

  4. Cassandra

    Kaley – Strange! I’ve not heard that word applied to anyone but Romanians…

    Cat – I’m afraid I don’t see the resemblance between you and Sr. Bieber; getting Rihanna’s autograph might actually be easier to achieve!

    Ely – Good point, I bet that some TAs from outside North America were expected to be Thanksgiving experts!

  5. Haha this is so funny Cassandra! I know I was asked a million strange things, but right now I remember that I had to translate a 30 page gyncana (?) which was nearly impossible because it was all expressions, jokes, historical references etc. Finally, after hours of work they went on the field trip and were so disorganized that there was no time for the activity. Just kill me!

  6. Cassandra

    Lauren – There is a common interpretation thread here, but 30 pages in your case seems excessive. And then you weren’t even able to use it? Vaya!!

  7. Lately, Im being asked to analyze christmas songs…. like what does it mean to ‘rock around the christmas tree?” or to “deck the halls with boughs of holly”

    idk… we just sing it!

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