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Speakers: Denise Chilton, Sandra Smele, Christine Wong May 1, 2013

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1 Speakers: Denise Chilton, Sandra Smele, Christine Wong May 1, 2013
Advice for a New TA Speakers: Denise Chilton, Sandra Smele, Christine Wong May 1, 2013

2 Part 1: Before the term begins

3 3R’s for meeting the course director
Responsibilities: find out what your responsibilities are within and beyond the classroom. Resources: course directors have experience and a lot of handy teaching tools – find out what you can draw upon. Recommendations: remember that this course director may write you a teaching recommendation at some point – cultivate this relationship!

4 Get organized! Books: make sure you have them, as early as possible!
Office: Where is it? Where are your keys? Class lists: Who is in your class? How do you find out?

5 Get prepared! Read: Get started on the course texts – how will you teach these in a few weeks’ time? Observe: If you have the opportunity, observe a tutorial! Educate yourself: Find out about teaching development opportunities – take inspiration from other teachers.

6 Get prepared! Learning styles: Consider Kolb’s learning styles & Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory – where do you fit it, and how might you appeal to a variety of students?

7 Get psyched! Personal goals: what do you want to achieve in your teaching in the coming term? How will your determine your success? Anxiety: how to cope with more than just jitters…

8 Part 2: Your First Tutorial

9 Addressing first-day jitters
Take (at least a little) consolation from the fact that all instructors experiences some nervousness on the first day, and use your new role as instructor to address it because… part of the reason you feel nervous is because your students are unknown to you. As the instructor you can incorporate icebreaker-type activities into your first tutorial to help you get to know your students - both as individuals within and outside the context of the course.

10 Suggestions for Icebreaker Activities
Design an activity such that your students will share their names, their discipline, their interest in taking the course/your discipline and at least one other thing about themselves. Consider having them break into small groups and then introducing their group members to the larger group. Consider beginning the icebreaker activity by sharing about yourself first. Do not only share academia-related information about yourself. A sense of reciprocity and some familiarity is important for the creation a comfortable learning environment. Any really great suggestions?

11 Address the course syllabus
Bring copies of the course syllabus with you to your tutorial so that you can address it with all students. Take up key dates and information pertaining to accessing course readings and the course website. Review the description of the course objectives and the description of tutorial. Give them the opportunity to ask questions.

12 Draw up the TA-student “contract”
1) Outline for them the facilitator role you will play in their learning, including their responsibility for contributing to tutorial. 2) Emphasize your professional relationship with them. 3) Give them your contact information and your office location and hours, and set boundaries around when they can expect to meet with you outside of tutorial, and when they can expect an response from you. 4) Discuss how respect for each other will be practiced in the classroom. 5) Address their use of technology in tutorial. 6) Provide information about services that might be useful to them. 7) Address the process of seeking accommodations. Again, give them the opportunity to ask questions and contribute to this discussion.

13 Part 3: TAing your First Course

14 What is a Tutorial? A tutorial is a one- or two-hour session that is meant to complement the lecture given by the course director. Not another lecture! Smaller group of students – questions, clarification, direct access to instructor an active learning environment. Enhance lecture material, highlight and expand on course themes and concepts, explore more depth If in doubt, discuss with your course director

15 Conducting Tutorials Prepare for each tutorial.
Anticipate difficult topics or issues. What do you want students to take away with them that day? What are the goals for the tutorial? Think of a list of questions that you want to ask. Allow students to participate. Summarize tutorial in the end.

16 Active Tutorials Active Participation Student Interaction Discussions

17 Getting to know your students names
Students feel more invested Can be difficult, tips for learning names: Playing icebreakers in the first class nametags for first couple of classes Taking attendance Use their name to help remember

18 Making a Class Interactive
Classroom Discussions 1) Factual — Asks for specific information. Begins with who, what, where, or when. 2) Divergent — Asks for various ways to address or discuss an issue. Has no right or wrong answer. 3) Probing — Asks students to build on previous responses Can be used in series to get students to analyze material more deeply. 4) Higher Order Questions — Asks students to synthesize material. Requires more depth of analysis Group Work Student Presentations

19 Grading

20 Tips for Grading Clear about expectations Comments and Feedback
Rubric Comments and Feedback Start with a positive comment Be specific Comment on the good as well as areas of improvement Offer concrete suggestions for improvement. Maintaining Objectivity – marking blind

21 Teaching is learning Feedback
Self-assessment after each class, evaluate how you feel it went, student's reactions Feedback from students Check-in with Course Director and other TAs guidance, team teaching Experiment with different teaching approaches

22 Part 4: When the term is done…
Kolb’s Learning Cycle, step 1: concrete experience

23 Student and self-evaluation – a reflection exercise
Kolb, step 2: reflective observation Student and self-evaluation – a reflection exercise Using the same questions students answered about you, how would you rate your teaching performance? What do the student responses to these same questions reveal? Respond to student evaluations with reference to your own self-evaluation. Consider and reflect on what you have learned about teaching this term. 23

24 Dossier as reflection on/of success
Kolb, step 2: reflective observation Dossier as reflection on/of success Sample student work – for dossier and classroom Course design and reading library Include those flattering statements!

25 Conceptualization, or rewriting your teaching philosophy… again
Kolb, step 3: abstract conceptualization Conceptualization, or rewriting your teaching philosophy… again Reflection process as gateway to articulating your teaching philosophy Reflection process as gateway to identifying the concrete and specific ways in which you implement your philosophy through your teaching strategies Reflection process as gateway to identifying where teaching goals have been met and to setting new ones

26 The ongoing experiment
Kolb, step 4: active experimentation The ongoing experiment Attend teaching development workshops – what might you try next term? Review lesson plans: what needs change? What works? Build a resource library of handouts, and materials for grading and feedback.

27 Questions? Comments?

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