CTE offers support and resources to help your TAs, especially new TAs, prepare for their teaching duties. Below we have outlined the training and resources that CTE has available to set TAs up for success this Fall term.
- Teaching Assistant Training LEARN site: Three self-paced, asynchronous modules (one foundational, two advanced) available for departments, Faculties, and course instructors to offer to their TAs (open to all TAs; both undergraduate and graduate students). Request TA Training LEARN site for your TAs.
- Workshops by request: CTE staff can facilitate workshops as part of your departmental or Faculty TA Training, by request, in the modality of your choice. Contact Kristin Brown for more information.
- LEARN for TAs sessions: During the first month of term, CTE offers two sessions for TAs to introduce them to various LEARN tools. TAs can select their preferred date for this 2-hour session. Session dates will be listed on the CTE Events page.
- Fundamentals of University Teaching Program: Each term, CTE offers workshops on a variety of teaching topics relevant to TAs and graduate students. Upcoming offerings will be listed on the CTE Events page.
- TA Handbook: a resource of practical tips for TAs to refer to throughout their time as a TA.
Faculty of Engineering TA Training: ExpecTAtions: The Faculty of Engineering requires all TAs to complete the ExpecTAtions workshop. This discipline-specific TA training program is separate from CTE’s TA Training and teaching programs, and is organized by Engineering. Please see the Faculty of Engineering ExpecTAtions webpage for further information.
Teaching Assistant Training LEARN Site
CTE offers a Teaching Assistant Training LEARN site that consists of three self-paced modules (approximately 2 hours each) that Faculties, departments, or individual course instructors can ask their TAs to complete.
- Any teaching assistant - graduate students or undergraduate students - can complete these modules
- By completing these modules, graduate students can gain credits towards the Fundamentals of University Teaching certificate
These modules can be used on their own or as a complement to department or Faculty-level TA training programs. If you are interested in offering the modules to your TAs, please review and follow the instructions outlined in Process for requesting TA training below.
Topics and descriptions of online modules
The LEARN site includes the following asynchronous self-paced, online modules for Faculties, departments, and course instructors to offer their TAs (each module takes ~2 hours to complete).
Foundational module for all TAs:
Preparing to TA at Waterloo (CTE1210)
Module description: This module is designed to orient you to your role as a teaching assistant (TA) and prepare you for a successful start as a TA. The module will address topics relevant to all TAs at Waterloo, including an introduction to teaching and learning at the University of Waterloo, instructional roles performed by TAs in different course modalities, and provide you with tips for success and useful resources available for developing your skills. We’ll also help you understand how university policies related to teaching can provide guidance in some situations you may face as a TA, and introduce considerations for academic integrity, privacy, and copyright.
Advanced modules for TAs who work closely with students:
Supporting Student Mental Health (CTE2259)
Module description: The mental health and well-being of University of Waterloo students is a shared responsibility. Situations related to student mental health may arise in academic courses, and in many cases, teaching assistants may be the first to notice, or may be seen by undergraduate students as more approachable than others involved in course delivery. In this module, we will explore how to proactively support student mental health in the classroom and how to respond to mental health concerns that come to your attention. We will consider implications for both in-person and online courses. We will also discuss the importance of taking care of your own mental health while supporting students.
Giving and Receiving Feedback (CTE1106)
Module description: Feedback is a critical component of teaching and learning, as instructors and TAs provide feedback on students’ work and students provide feedback on instructors’ teaching. The purpose of this module is to help you improve your feedback practice as an instructor/TA by reflecting on and enhancing your current feedback approaches. In this module, we will explore what makes feedback effective for improving student learning and provide examples of effective feedback techniques that attend to phrasing, timing, utility and emotional impact of feedback for learning. We will discuss key concepts regarding feedback, provide practical strategies for making feedback more useful to students and offer tips for engaging students in the feedback process.
CTE suggestions for using the online modules in your TA training
We designed these self-paced online modules as a flexible supplement to discipline-specific TA training, that can be easily incorporated into your departmental/Faculty TA training. You might consider asking your TAs to complete individual modules throughout the term, or at the beginning of the term. TAs will retain access to the modules as a resource they can refer back to throughout the term.
Although TAs benefit from going through the standalone modules, we encourage you to supplement these modules with department- or Faculty-specific sessions. Supplemental activities can allow TAs the opportunity to engage in discussion with their peers, ask questions about being a TA, and learn skills specific to your teaching context. You might use the reflection questions and activities embedded in the module as discussion prompts, or you can design your own discussion prompts based on your disciplinary needs.
Process for instructors/departments/Faculties to request TA training
We realize that TA training occurs at different levels across campus, whether it is at the Faculty, department, or course level.
If you are a course instructor interested in providing training to your TAs, we encourage you to talk to other instructors or the Graduate Coordinator in your department to determine whether this training should be offered to all TAs in your department. If your department is not interested in offering this training, you can then request training for TAs in your course.
We ask that you do the following to arrange access to the TA Training LEARN site for your TAs:
- View the modules available in the TA Training LEARN site to determine which of the modules you would like your TAs to complete.
- To access the TA Training LEARN site, you will need to self-register for the Teaching Assistant Training LEARN site.
- Once you have decided which modules you would like TAs to complete, you will be able to make the request through the TA Training Request Qualtrics survey.
- Once we receive your survey responses above, Monika Soczewinski from CTE will contact you with further information regarding the logistics of TA registration and access to the module.
Workshops by Request
CTE can facilitate workshops as part of your departmental of Faculty TA Training by request, in the modality of your choice (in-person or online synchronous). If you are interested in CTE staff facilitating a workshop as part of your TA training, please contact Kristin Brown from CTE.
LEARN for TAs Sessions
This two-hour hands-on workshop will introduce TAs to LEARN (from Desire2Learn), our learning management system for presenting course activities and resources in on-campus and fully online courses. By the end of this session, TAs will: be able to use the D2L environment to communicate with students; have basic knowledge of the tools available within D2L (e.g., enter grades). For more information see the LEARN for TAs webpage. Session dates will be listed on the CTE Events page.
Workshops in the Fundamentals of University Teaching Program
Each term, CTE offers workshops on a variety of teaching topics relevant to TAs and graduate students as part of the Fundamentals of University Teaching Program. These workshops are open to all graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
Key topics include: designing lesson plans; teaching methods; effective questions; receiving and giving feedback; building rapport with students and course instructors; reflecting on diversity in the classroom, teaching STEM tutorials and facilitating discussions.
TAs can register and complete individual workshops or accumulate workshops towards the Fundamentals of University Teaching certificate which requires completing 6 workshops and 3 microteaching (practice teaching) sessions.
Upcoming offerings will be listed on the CTE Events page.
We encourage you to share the TA Handbook with TAs in your department. This resource has been updated for the 2022-2023 academic year and provides key resources to help TAs prepare for and carry out their role successfully at Waterloo.