In addition to learning how to teach, you, as an international graduate student have an extra challenge in learning the ropes of the American classroom, and possibly, some more English. We recommend:
Vocabulary: Watch for the words that are different in the two variants of English
e.g. a relatively innocent mistake: corridor – hallway; venue – place; You may embarrass yourself: rubber – eraser
Spelling: e.g. tyre – tire; programme – program; neighbour – neighbor; colour - color
Pronunciation: Americans say “Schedule” pronounced “Skedule” (sch is pronounced sk as in school)
And LABoratory not laBORatory.
The rule – if you don't understand, ask for clarification! Plus, there are useful books on idioms such as the Handbook of American Idioms and Idiomatic Usage by Whitford and Dixson.
Checking student understanding
There are situations in which the GTA does not understand what a student is saying.
Thus, it is necessary to ask the student for clarification. An effective way to check one's understanding of
what was said or meant, is to restate the comment or question, and ask the student if this is what s/he meant.
Some common phrases in checking one's understanding of what has been said or asked are:
In summary: If you don't understand a student:
Work to improve your English.
Be aware of non-verbal communication
The prejudices of some students
Observe American teachers in the classroom