Developmental Stages of TAs

About TA Stages

Understand the stages your TA might go through and how to mentor them as they grow.

1. Senior Learner

  • Has basic "survival" skills
  • Uses good presentation skills
  • Maintains authority in the classroom
  • Organizes material in a logical manner
  • Gives a clear agenda for the section

How to Mentor New TAs at This Stage

  • Lead practice teaching session
  • Arrange shadowing opportunities for TA
  • Meet regularly to answer questions and provide support
  • Bring new TAs together to discuss challenges
  • Suggest teaching tips and strategies

2. Colleague-in-Training

  • Starts to think about best teaching practices
  • Encourages and validates student contributions
  • Makes connections between topics
  • Motivates student interest in material
  • Uses multiple ways to illustrate a concept

3. Junior Colleague

  • Gets student feedback to see if they're understanding the course material
  • Incorporates student feedback and responses into lessons
  • May develop course materials

How to Mentor Advanced TAs at This Stage

  • Let mentee decide how often they need to meet (may be less often)
  • Observe or record TA's section and give feedback
  • Have TA observe mentor's teaching and discuss
  • Bring advanced TAs together to discuss pedagogy
  • Connect TA to additional teaching resources and chances to grow

Developmental model based on Sprague and Nyquist, 1991; Nyquist and Wolff, 1996.