I'm a teaching assistant at a US university for a calculus class. My major duties are to write worksheets and then grade them along with the homework.
I have been a TA long enough (5 years now) to understand the usual responsibilities of one. I have also worked with a variety of instructors with different working styles. All of this, is to say that my current instructor is severely micromanaging me. So far, I've managed to do all of the miscellaneous and often questionable as necessary tasks they've given me. But as the semester is progressing, they're continuing to give me additional tasks.
By way of example, they'd started questioning why I took a point from a students assignment. Now they also want me to write down a detailed rubric of how I grade an assignment, down to every possible scenario of how a student may lose a point.
There are other examples. Their tone of emails is very disrespectful and I get several emails a week (on top of a weekly meeting) of that nature. I've considered talking to my research advisor, but they've got a lot on their plate right now and so I would like to call on the vast experience of this community to help me with the following questions:
Am I allowed to use the word 'micromanage' in an email, or would it be considered unprofessional or inappropriate? I wish to let the instructor know that I would like to be treated like an adult.
Do math departments at US universities have some kind of support system for TAs? If a TA such as I is distressed with their instructor, who would they go talk to?
As a TA, am I allowed to say no to a task given by the instructor? Or must I do whatever they say?
I am not unhappy that the instructor requires a rubric. Rubrics have always been created and used. They however, want me to write down in great detailed how many ways there are a student can get a problem incorrect, and how I'd mark them down. The point is, there are infinitely many ways and no rubric detailed enough can account for every contingency. I am also not unhappy that the instructor is handing me more tasks as the semester progresses. I am unhappy, however, that they're relinquishing many of the responsibilities of an instructor (that they started the semester, agreeing to do) onto me. This is creating logistical challenges for me (since we are not teaching in person). An earlier clarification that included a detail about the instructor has been removed, please keep it that way.
Thank you all for your comments and answers. I took the advice of approaching the instructor and the department chair (separately) and putting my concerns in front of them. I also spoke to fellow TAs who had worked with the instructor in the past. Following is a brief summary:
- The instructor seem to not agree that their tone of communication with me had been disrespectful. I showed them some examples and explained my perspective and after a dialogue, they seem to cave in and indirectly admitted by saying that their language was a bit too harsh.
The instructor did not agree that they're passing their work onto me, so I decided to take it to the chair.
The chair agreed that many of the tasks I was performing were not to be handled by TAs. They told me they'd speak to the instructor.
Apparently, a couple TAs I spoke to, who've worked with them in the past, had similar experiences. They said they got into arguments with the instructor often.
I'm grateful for a lot of good advice given to me here. The situation seems to have gotten a lot better with the instructor now and I hope to finish the semester on a positive note.