Developing and Managing an Effective TA Teaching Team

Table of Contents

Whether this is your first time leading a course with one or more teaching assistants or you would like to revisit your process, this section offers considerations and resources for U of T instructors building a TA teaching team.

Building Your Teaching Team

Start by rating the following considerations from 1 (most significant) to 6 (least significant):

  • Consistent grading. What is the quality and quantity of feedback to be provided to students? How much time should it take to mark certain assignments? Do I need to prepare a benchmarking session?
  • Allocation of hours to duties/responsibilities. How do I navigate the collective agreement? What if the number of hours assigned comes up “short” given the course size and types of assignments? How do I review the DDAH form or conduct a mid-term review?
  • Course policies. What are the relevant, key departmental, Divisional and institutional policies and procedures that TAs must follow? How do I make sure that TAs are adhering to my course policies? What can I do when TAs violate critical course policies?
  • Expectations. How can I establish clear expectations regarding my TAs preparedness, content competence, overall professionalism, conduct (in and outside of the class)? How do I communicate my obligations to the TAs? How do I discus limitations of the TA role in my course?
  • High quality of teaching. What kinds of teaching approaches should/will my TAs be using in the tutorials/labs? What kinds of learning activities will they be expected to lead with students? To what extent should I “monitor” their teaching?
  • Communication. How do I maintain open channels of communication with my TAs? How much direction, guidance and mentorship should I provide? How often should I check in with them and they with me?
  • Other?

The CUPE 3902 (Unit 1) collective agreement stipulates that you arrange a pre-course meeting with your TAs before their teaching appointment to discuss all your TAs’ contracted duties. In this meeting, you should review the Description of Duties and Allocation of Hours (DDAH) Form for each of your TAs. Many of the considerations listed within this section have implications for the DDAH.

To help you prepare, you should review:

  • Considerations and questions for your pre-course meeting
  • Seven key areas of TA development when building a teaching team

Please keep in mind that questions regarding the CUPE 3902 Unit 1 (or Unit 3) collective agreement should be directed to the Designated Authority in your department or to Labour Relations.

Preparing Your TAs for Tutorial

Once you have developed the course policies for your teaching team, you can then explore all the options for the content, structure, teaching strategies, activities, and formative assessments for the tutorials in your course.

The first step in this process is to develop effective learning outcomes which will give your course tutorials direction and scope. Use the Developing Tutorial Learning Outcomes (pdf) resource to help identify what you want your students to know and what they should be able to do by the end of the course. Consult Active Verbs for Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy for a list of active verbs and examples of effective learning outcomes.

The next step is to determine how and when the learning outcomes will be assessed in the tutorial, what methods your TAs will use to measure students’ mastery of the content, and some strategies that your TAs can use while marking. You can use the Overall Tutorial Planner (pdf) to brainstorm these ideas.

Once you have an outline of these considerations, share these with your TAs. To help your TAs plan for each individual tutorial, you could distribute the Specific Tutorial Planner (pdf). If you want to provide additional guidance to or maintain consistency in content and teaching in your teaching team, you could fill out this planner with suggestions and distribute it to all your TAs each week.

Teaching Assistants' Training Program

For information on graduate student and Teaching Assistant professional development and job training, please visit the TATP for resources, events and more.

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