Academic Continuity at U of T: Tip Sheet for TAs

Course Communications

Communication with the Course Instructor

Considerations and Questions:

  • Discuss with the CI the continuity plan for the course (e.g., delivery of lectures, tutorials, seminars, labs, communication plan, assignments, grading, final exams).
  • Communicate with your Course Instructor (CI) about the course communication strategy: How will you stay in touch with the CI and your fellow TAs in the course, and how often will you connect?
  • How does your CI want to handle online communication with students? (For example, to your U of T email, Quercus Inbox, course notifications in Quercus, etc.).
  • Ask the CI what counts as “contact time” with students.
  • Determine how you will share course content with the CI? (e.g., OneDrive, Microsoft Teams).

Resources and Supports:

Communicating with Students

Considerations and Questions:

  • After confirming new or revised communication strategy with the CI, reach out to your students to inform them about changes.
  • Provide clear guidelines on online office hours.
  • Explain your new expectations for online engagement.
  • Use University-supported channels and tools to connect with students (verify your selected tools with the CI).
  • If you begin using a new or different tool to communicate with your students, and your students have not used this tool before, ensure you provide detailed instructions to students to guide them through the set up and use of the tool.

Resources and Supports:

Course Structure and Administration

Changes to course structure

Considerations and Questions:

  • Verify with the CI whether there are changes to the course content, course evaluation methods, contact time with students, methods of engaging students, etc., and how this will be reflected in your revised duties and responsibilities.
  • As appropriate, the CI can request a re-distribution of your hours on your Description of Duties and Allocation of Hours (DDAH) form.

Resources and Supports:

  • Track the number of hours that you work, and the nature of the work or tasks completed in a given time period, in a log, and communicate with the CI regularly about the assigned duties, hours and workload.
  • Contact your CI and/or hiring department and/or the appropriate contact who oversees TA work in the hiring department – this could be an undergraduate administrator or Associate Chair, a graduate administrator or Associate Chair, or a departmental TA Coordinator—for specific questions about how your department is handling any course changes.

Collecting and maintaining a record of all grades and assignments

Considerations and Questions:

  • Continue to maintain a record of your students’ grades and assignments.
  • Confirm with your CI how assignment submission might change or move to the online environment.
  • Verify with the CI if new grading and feedback protocols will be used (e.g., SpeedGrader, rubrics).

Resources and Supports:

  • If you are communicating with students outside of Quercus, keep detailed records of all your exchanges.
  • Review the TATP tip sheet on Respecting Confidentiality.
  • Explore instructions related to the Gradebook and SpeedGrader.
  • Review instructions on how to develop Rubrics in Quercus.

Teaching in the Online Environment

Training and supports

Considerations and Questions:

  • If your updated responsibilities require that you use educational technologies with which you are unfamiliar, speak to your CI about additional training.
  • Identify local and institutional Educational Technology (EdTech) supports and services. Share these with your students to support their online learning.
  • Review different institutional and external options for training.

Resources and Supports:

  • Each division at U of T has identified key contacts and supports related to Quercus: look up your divisional support representative. (Note: If your division does not have a key EdTech support contact, you can reach out to the central office at q.help@utoronto.ca.)
  • Explore the Training Schedule to identify training sessions on Quercus.
  • Online documentation related to Quercus (including tip sheets, guides, and videos), are available through the Quercus Support Resources course (includes a link to information on “Quercus for Teaching Assistants”).
  • External online training and self-paced videos are offered through the Canvas Community Training Portal and LinkedIn Learning. (To access LinkedIn Learning, you will be prompted to provide your UTORid and password.)

Considerations for teaching in the online environment

Considerations and Questions:

  • If some of your work with students shifts to the online environment, consider what strategies you might use to engage students and promote learning.
  • Consult with the CI on new forms of online engagement.
  • As a teacher in the online environment, you should be socially present in the learning environment; help students form a learning community; and actively engage students through learning activities.

Resources and Supports: