I am a teaching assistant for the first time this semester. A couple of friends have asked how it is going, and I have used phrases like "some of my students..." or "my students are ..." when telling them my experiences.

I'm not so concerned when talking to my friends, but in an academic setting (ex. talking to another professor) is it appropriate for me to say "my students" when referring to the students in the class which I am TA'ing for?

I'm definitely leaning towards "no", because I am not the one instructing the class, I am just helping instruct the class, but I'd like to get SE's opinion.

  • 1
    I ask myself that all the time; I find myself changing my mind on whether it is most appropriate. Around my friends or other TA/GA's I say "my students", while discussing with the professor in the class I use "our students", while in discussions with other professors on campus I use "the students in my class". While in any social situation, regardless of who I am talking with, I use "my students".
    – pandorym
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 15:12
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    I have used "My students" for the last 18 years. I expect my TAs to use the same expression. If you are helping me teach my class, we are on the same team. You are not just helping. Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 16:56

2 Answers 2


Yes, it is perfectly appropriate to refer to students in a class you are TAing as "my students."

You are teaching them; hence, they are your students. It doesn't really matter whether or not you are the primary instructor.

  • 18
    Though if you're talking to another TA of the course, or the instructor, you should say "our students".
    – Moriarty
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 6:54
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    @Moriarty I don't think so. Using "my" does not imply that they are exclusively your students, so you can use it when talking to the instructor without making them think you're trying to deny the instructor's role in teaching the class. And when talking to another TA, it may actually be important to say "my students" to make clear that you don't include the other TA's students in the group you're talking about.
    – David Z
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 6:59
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    @DavidZ When I say "another TA of the course, or the instructor", I should clarify that I mean when (in the given context) your responsibility for them is roughly shared. Sure, if the class is split and one TA looks after half and the other TA looks after half, then "my" is better, as you can emphasize my/your to clarify which subgroup you're talking about. Whichever makes more sense based on the context.
    – Moriarty
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 7:08
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    @Moriarty I would more than likely use "the students" when talking to other TAs or the professor of the class. This implies "our" but does not emphasize on ownership.
    – Lil' Bits
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 15:18
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    And if you're worried that the prof would be offended if you refer to "your students", I think that is highly unlikely. I think most profs, if they notice the phrase at all, would take it as a sign that you are serious about your teaching responsibilities.
    – mhwombat
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 18:45

"My students" is not a possessive. It's "the students whom I am responsible for." As such, it's wholly appropriate.

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