Mental health training for Teaching Assistants

Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) is pleased to partner with the Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE), the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Mathematics to introduce a pilot of mental health training for Teaching Assistants (TAs) in fall 2021. All TAs in each of the faculties are encouraged to review and complete this training. Through the pilot, feedback will be collected on the student experience and relevance of the training module -  all students are encouraged to share their feedback on the module as they complete it.

Why mental health training for TAs?

The mental health and well-being of University of Waterloo undergraduate students is a shared responsibility. Situations related to student mental health may arise in academic courses, and in many cases, graduate students serving as Teaching Assistants may be the first to notice or may be seen by undergraduate students as more approachable than others involved in course delivery. The mental health of graduate students is equally as important; strategies and ideas will be discussed and shared on how graduate students can take care of their own mental health as a TA.

What is the mental health training for TAs?

  • The training provides an online, self-paced, asynchronous module designed for graduate student Teaching Assistants (TAs) at the University of Waterloo.
  • The module is available within LEARN - see below for details on accessing the module. 
  • The module takes approximately two hours to complete and includes completion of the Council of Ontario Universities' More Feet on the Ground mental health training, in addition to scenarios and strategies specific to the role of a TA. The module includes the following units:
    • The Role of TAs in Supporting Student Mental Health
    • Recognize, Respond, and Refer Students in Distress
    • Establishing Your Comfort Level and Boundaries
    • Teaching Strategies for Supporting Students’ Mental Well-being
    • Supporting Students and Taking Care of Yourself During Covid-19 (note: this unit will be removed once it’s no longer applicable)
    • Self-Care Strategies for TAs
  • The TA module is designed for graduate students to take once, but then refer back to the resource as needed during their time as a TA. Ideally, graduate students who complete the module would continue to have access to the LEARN module for their entire graduate student career.

How will the training happen?

  • Students will access the training module via the Teaching Assistant Training course in LEARN.
  • Students will be notified by the hiring department/school within the Faculty of Arts/Mathematics for the fall 2021 term encouraging them complete the module.
  • To complete the module through the Teaching Assistant Training site, TAs will need to add themselves to the training site in LEARN (see details below). Access to this LEARN site is required in order to participate in the TA training modules.
  • To complete the module, TAs will need to review the module content, complete the five module quizzes, and upload their More Feet on the Ground training certificate to the LEARN dropbox. Participants will receive a "LEARN badge" to indicate they've completed the module requirements.   
  • Optional: TAs can receive credit towards the Fundamentals of University Teaching program by registering for the module in CTE's registration system (see the module for more information).

To access the Teaching Assistant Training site in LEARN:

  • log in to Waterloo LEARN
  • click the Self Registration link along the top of the System level Navbar
    self registratin in navbar
  • locate the Teaching Assistant Training site in the list and click on it
  • confirm that you wish to register in the course
  • You now have access to the Teaching Assistant Training site in LEARN and can access it from your LEARN class list under "ongoing courses" (not Fall 2021 courses)

To access the Supporting Student Mental Health module:

  • Navigate to the right-hand side menu (Teaching Assistant Training: Content) and click on "Supporting Student Mental Health (CTE2259)

screenshot from LEARN on how to access the mental health module

Please note, if you enrol for a LEARN site you do not need access to, you will have to contact and request you be removed from that site.

When will training happen? 

  • The course will be available starting August 23, 2021 in LEARN; students are encouraged to complete the course early in the term and their TA career to receive the most out of the training.  

Where can you get more details?