Student Voices: From student to teacher and back again | Work of Arts
Student Voices: From student to teacher and back again | Work of Arts

Student Voices: From student to teacher and back again

Aboriginal student blogger Corinne Riedel shares the joys and challenges of having dual roles

Student Voices is a WOA blog feature that presents the experiences and viewpoints of current Arts students. Through their posts, you’ll experience the creativity and passion of our students as they present glimpses into student life. The views and opinions expressed within these posts are solely those of the authors.


Student. Instructional Assistant. Student. Student-ing. Instructional Assistant-ing again — this is how it goes. I switch back and forth, and back and forth each day.

There are emails from students, emails from the other IAs and the professor, meetings with students, meetings with the prof and IAs as well as weekly responses to students’ online submissions and other administrations. Then I have my four — count ‘em — FOUR English courses in which I am enrolled. I gotta stay on top of those.


Corinne gets ready for her day wearing multiple hats

People think I’m crazy. But it’s manageable… right? Ah well, it’s week number four and so far so good.

I have been doing this since September and it’s a pretty sweet gig. I’m not an Education student so it’s not my intention to teach full-time though here I am, once again, in an instructor’s role. Pretty cool. In 2002, I taught English in Spain and since then, I have been consistently placed in leader-type roles where I am asked to train, teach or instruct others. I am starting to see a pattern here. Hmmmm…

People think I’m crazy. But it’s manageable… right?

It can be a lot to juggle. In the fall term it was English and this term is a new Writing Studies course; it is a new one and it is proving to be a handful for the four of us. Last term was different, in that I shared the one hour and 50 minute time slot with a colleague, but this term I have half the class for the half the time… and all to myself. It can feel pretty huge sometimes. But it always pans out. Then you get that one student who tells you how they think the class should be instructed — and they’ve done a thorough job by emailing both the instructor AND the program coordinator — and for a moment all physical objects that surround you fall away in that sort of movie magic, distorted and floating moment. Then you breathe, let it go and move on.

Minutes before 9 a.m., we enter the room one after the other, unpacking our bodies of backpacks and down-filled coats, giant scarves and toques. It all seems to happen in slow-mo as I give myself a silent pep talk. They are subdued, partially asleep. It’s January and the sun has only just risen. I throw a smile on my face.

I am equal parts self-confidence and self-doubt mixed with the right amount of preparation and thrown caution that amounts to a pretty breezy 50 minutes… and then we disperse. I have four minutes to get to class. I’m walking and checking emails on my phone. An email from a student! I freeze. I wonder what she needs. She writes that she misses me in class and asks if I will be joining them again this semester. I melt.

I cruise over to the next building in order to catch my first class, this time as a student. I attempt to unpack and sit — mind still reeling about what I shared, what I forgot to share, what I should have worded differently. But class is starting, so I move on. Focus!

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About Corinne Riedel

Corinne Riedel

Corinne Riedel (Métis) is in the third year of her Bachelor of Arts. She is working towards a certificate in Community Service-Learning while majoring in English and minoring in Creative Writing, as well as co-instructing a junior English course in Aboriginal literature and writing. Forever reading and writing poetry, tea and fruit in hand, she enjoys being outdoors. Whether on or slightly off campus, she cannot get enough sunshine and conversation with campus cousins. She is interested in knowledge-keeping for the purpose of sharing as much as she is interested in truth, humanization and activism through the arts.