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TEACH Symposium

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Join colleagues from across the university to share and learn about inclusive teaching, learning, and technology strategies at the December TEACH Symposium (December 8-10, 2021).

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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 working together.

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:

  • Connect early with an initial meeting to clarify expectations and set communications protocols
  • Make sure that TAs are registered in ExploreCourse (if not contact your department administrator)
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Preserve section materials and resources for reference and future iterations 

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 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?

Strategies for TAs for online courses

TAs are often the first point of contact for students who are adapting to learning in fully online formats. These strategies can help TAs in supporting students' success.

  • Lead with compassion - Don't try to do too much in a section. Learn about your students' situations and offer flexibility when possible.
  • Build community among your students - Establishing class norms and creating spaces and opportunities for students to socialize can have a positive impact on their motivation and engagement.
  • Grade equitably and efficiently - Discuss grading practices among the teaching team. Take advantage of rubrics and checklists and tools such as Gradescope.

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