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Tips and Resources for New Teaching Assistants

September 10, 2015
By GradProSkills

Given the number of graduate students who will work as a Teaching Assistant in the course of their academic career, there is a good amount of online information and resources for students who are taking on TA duties for the first time this fall. Here, we bring you some of the most useful advice from around the web.

  • The first step of the job sounds like a no-brainer: you have to know what your responsibilities and duties are! Depending on the nature of your contract, you may or may not be teaching in the classroom, conducting tutorials, or simply grading and marking. At Concordia you'll be filling out a Teaching Assistant Workload form with the professor you are TAing for, so that is a good moment to clarify any questions you might have.
  • On Inside Higher Ed, Julie E. Dodd recommends creating a clear syllabus with policies, deadlines and Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs).
  • "The important thing to remember is that you are an instructor, not a friend,” writes Justin Bengry for TalentEgg. If you're looking for tips on connecting with students while maintaining professional boundaries, Dodd's Inside Higher Ed post is also useful. 
  • When grading, be constructive and open-minded, writes Jan Tullis in her Twenty TA Tips for Brown University
  • If it will be your first time teaching, Michele McDonough makes the excellent suggestion of asking for mid-term evaluations from your class - not just at the end of the semester. That way, you can implement changes right away that will help students. 

If you’re looking for reading material on best teaching practices, check out these books:

And, of course, GradProSkills also offers several teaching workshops. Check our page for upcoming sessions.

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