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Working with Teaching Assistants

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The concept of "mentoring" was first used in industry, where young apprentices were assigned an experienced worker to train them on the job. A similar concept applies to TAs. Faculty working with TAs should be aware of the important role they play in the professional development of their TAs, and should make an effort to provide the necessary assistance and guidance.

Few outstanding teachers are born. TAs are to be considered students of university teaching. Since they are learning about teaching while being a TA, a teaching assistantship is very much like an apprenticeship. Because Brock uses both undergraduate and graduate students as seminar leaders in some departments, good mentoring is extremely important. When assuming a teaching assistantship for the very first time, TAs may have experiences very similar to those of new faculty. For this reason, TAs should be given, from the beginning, clear information about what is expected of them.

It is recommended that Teaching Assistant and supervisor meet on a regular basis to discuss issues such as

  • the TAs experiences in the classroom
  • how to assist students in meeting the outcomes of the course
  • the criteria used for evaluation and grading, if applicable
  • the content to be covered in the course
  • how to deal with problematic students
  • resources available to TAs

The CTLET offers many resources for Teaching Assistants, like Instructional Skills Workshops, TA Workshop Services, Consultations and a GTA Practicum.

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