There is one topic in the course that I am TAing that I felt interested to re-learn (since I forgot most things about it). I also had some questions I want to ask about the topic (that could be beneficial to students). As in the question, knowing that the room is frequently overflowing, is it not appropriate to "steal" the seat of students to sit in the lecture?

  • This seems to me to be two completely separate topics...1) taking a seat as a TA in a room where all the seats are filled (I assume you mean literally? as in, students would have to stand), and 2) asking questions when you are the TA rather than a student.
    – Bryan Krause
    Jan 15, 2020 at 5:10
  • @Bryan this is just to say that If I occupy the seat, I won't just "sit" there, I also plan to do something potentially beneficial to the class as well. The primary question is still regarding taking a seat from students as a TA.
    – y chung
    Jan 15, 2020 at 5:12
  • Do you mean literally taking a seat so someone has to stand? or taking a seat as in someone has to sit further to the back?
    – Bryan Krause
    Jan 15, 2020 at 5:15
  • I will not be able to know in advance if the lecture room will be actually full. Perhaps, I have the option to observe the situation a bit, if it is indeed full-seated, then I could sit on the stair or sth, tho not ideal.
    – y chung
    Jan 15, 2020 at 5:16
  • More information, in the last lecture even some students appeared to sit on the stair/stand. It was not even just full, it was overflowing. But I dont know if it is just because it is still add/drop period.
    – y chung
    Jan 15, 2020 at 5:21

3 Answers 3


Ask the professor

The professor should be the one to make this decision, weighing the potential positive and negative impacts on the students.

As a TA, you should in any case ask the professor before planning to attend lectures, whether the course is full or not, and you should particularly ask whether it is okay for you to ask questions. In some classes, the professor might think having a TA present would be distracting, and may or may not share your view that your questions would be "beneficial to the students".

If you do end up asking questions, it would be good to check in with the professor periodically to see if they are still finding it helpful.

If the professor asks you not to attend the class, then it is your responsibility to find some other way to get up to speed on the material (i.e. reading on your own). If you do not think that will be possible, then you should ask to be assigned to a different course.

  • 1
    Thank you for the answer. I agree the best is to ask the professor directly. Over the years, I have observed that it is pretty common in my university where the TA sit in the course and even raise question (for the courses I have taken so far).
    – y chung
    Jan 15, 2020 at 5:27

If I was in the situation with a room this full, I'd probably find a stool or chair and sit to the side or behind the professor rather than taking a "normal" seat. I'm sorry you are in a position with such limited seating for the class size.

I think it's completely normal and desirable for TAs to attend lectures regularly, but I'd also agree with @NateEldridge in that you should probably run your questioning by your professor in some way. There are a lot of questions a TA might have that aren't really relevant to the course, and you run the risk of undermining or appearing to undermine the professor in front of their students, which, even if it is in some way deserved, is unlikely to work out positively for anyone involved.


is it not appropriate to "steal" the seat of students to sit in the lecture?

No, it is not appropriate. In most cases it is appropriate and potentially slightly helpful for a TA to be present in a class when they are not teaching it. But the TA should allow the students to take priority. The class is for them.

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