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TAs and the Teaching Team

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Teaching Assistants (TAs) are an important part of a teaching team for online instruction. Here are some suggested practices and resources that can help faculty and TAs be more effective and efficient when working together.

Clarify tasks and responsibilities

TAs and instructors have a wide range of tasks and responsibilities to consider.

  • Discussion Sections – Who is responsible for discussion sessions? How will discussion sections be facilitated?  
  • Office Hours – What is the format and frequency of office hours? How will you adapt to virtual office hours?
  • Grading responsibilities – What is the expected turnaround on grading? What tools will you use? (SpeedGrader, Gradescope)
  • Canvas – Who will develop and maintain the Canvas course site? What Canvas training might be needed?
  • Real-time class meetings – Who is in charge of the Zoom meetings? Who will facilitate Zoom tasks such as breakout rooms, monitoring chat, and so on?

Communicate frequently

Frequent communication on goals and expectations, responsibilities, and feedback throughout the quarter is beneficial to the instructor(s) and to TAs. 

Before the quarter begins

Set clear expectations with TAs. This allows for effective planning and time management, as well as reducing the chances of misunderstandings during the quarter. The TA Responsibilities Form allows you to clarify TA tasks and time commitments. (View the TA Responsibilities form or make a copy.)

Connect early with an initial team meeting. This allows the team to set expectations and norms, brainstorm goals, and share resources. The Initial Meeting Agenda template is a customizable resource that can keep your initial meeting on track. (View the Initial Meeting Agenda template or make a copy.)

Make sure that TAs are registered in ExploreCourses. If they are not, contact your department administrator for assistance.

Collaborate with experienced TAs during the course design phase when the employment agreement allows.

During the quarter

Meet regularly to foster positive working relationships and to initiate dialogue between the members of the teaching team. This will help the team to coordinate on grading assignments, share information about how sections and office hours are going, and learn about the feedback that students are providing. The Weekly Meeting Agenda template is a customizable resource to optimize weekly team meetings (View the Weekly Meeting Agenda template or make a copy.)

Have a mid-quarter check-in with your TAs. This is useful for getting feedback from the TAs on their experiences with students and how the teaching team's work can be enhanced. (View the Mid-Quarter Check-In template or make a copy.)

Share and model a variety of teaching strategies, activities, frameworks, and example resources.

At the end of the quarter

Reflect on the course together as a team to identify what went well and why, and what could be improved and how. This allows your team to learn from its experience, both individually and to benefit future iterations of your course. Use the End-of-Quarter Reflection template to guide this conversation and preserve knowledge for future teaching teams (View the End-of-Quarter TA Reflection form or make a copy.)

Preserve section materials and resources for reference and future iterations. 

    TA training and support

    CTL offers many resources for TAs, graduate students, and postdocs at every stage of their teaching careers, including:

    • Workshops and courses
    • TA Orientation
    • Feedback on teaching
    • Training for Department TAs
    • Graduate teaching opportunities

    Learn more