So I know a couple of my readers are teachers and I am in need of some teaching advice. Although even if you're not a teacher, please don't hesitate to comment! I'm always open to suggestions. So here's what's been going on:
I'm a TA for a section of general chemistry lab. I enjoy doing this generally. The extra cash is nice and most of the students are pretty fun. I feel that lab can be a little more laid back than lecture and that as long as they're serious when they need to be, I'm cool with it. I did this last year as well and there were really no issues. This semester I have a "problem child," if you will, emerging.
The ironic part is that this student is a chemistry major and has the potential to do really well. He mentioned during the first week of class that he hates doing things just to make a point (i.e. our entire lab curriculum, of which I have no control). I get his point and I feel bad that I can't really do anything to help him out in this respect. When I got his first lab report is really wasn't adequate. They get to do a re-write, so I gave him some comments and the grade he earned (which was not good).
After I handed back the reports we went over common errors, things that lots of people missed. This student began correcting my grammar as I spoke. Now don't get me wrong, I make mistakes and I'm all for being corrected to make sure everyone in the class is getting the right information. But this kid was correcting my grammar as I am speaking! I don't speak perfectly 100% of the time, but I'm pretty sure everyone can understand me. I tried to just let this go.
At the end of the class the students have to sign out with me and when he came to sign out I noticed that he didn't complete his analogy worksheet. I asked if he did it and he told me that he did it in his head. This is one of the few ways I know that the students are participating because sometimes I have to stay in the lab while some of the students are working on the analogy activity. He got upset when I told him that not completing assignments will result in a poor participation grade. I get the sense that he feels like taking this class is beneath him.
Anyway, I am meeting with him tomorrow to go over his lab report (something he signed up for) and I am trying to prepare what I want to say to him. I feel like his negative attitude is bringing some of the other students down, which is not okay. I want to reach out, not make it worse. I feel like this is a fine line I'm walking. Any advice or tips?