Guidelines for First-Year Teaching Assistants and Mentors
The purpose of the First-Year TA program is to introduce novice teachers to pedagogy through mentoring and classroom example.
Assignment of TAs:
The Director of Graduate Studies meets with eligible students to determine the best field and type of class for the student to TA. The DGS then sends a letter to relevant faculty asking whether they wish to participate in the program. The DGS matches TA with faculty member and informs both.
1. Faculty Mentors
Should communicate with the TA early (over the summer for fall term, before end of fall term for spring) to provide the syllabus and discuss duties. Faculty may employ the TA for some “secretarial” duties (xeroxing syllabi, securing library resources, etc.) but the experience is meant to train teachers not secretaries, so the emphasis should be on pedagogical matters. TA time is not to be used to advance personal research agendas.
Will plan to meet regularly with the student to discuss pedagogical matters, including but not limited to: principles of syllabus development, preparation of classroom materials, securing resources for the course, planning a class session, conducting discussions, making assignments, setting examinations, and grading.
Will involve the student in pedagogy in a graduated way. For example, the faculty member should discuss grading with the student, provide samples of grading, and conduct a grading session wherein both student and faculty member review each others’ grading before handing grading over to the student. All graded work should be supervised by the faculty member.
Will involve the second-term TA in syllabus planning, if possible, perhaps asking the student to plan a small unit of the syllabus. This unit need not form a part of the regular syllabus but will serve a pedagogical function.
Will create opportunities for the TA to handle small discussion groups, beginning with review sessions. By the end of each term, the TA should have had an opportunity to handle the preparation and conducting of one class under supervision.
Will fill out an evaluation form from the DGS.
Will hold office hours as directed by the mentoring faculty member.
Should make sure that they are in contact with their mentors as early as possible.
Are responsible for carrying out minor “secretarial” services for the course—xeroxing syllabi or securing library resources are appropriate activities. Conducting research for the faculty member’s own scholarship is not an appropriate use of the TA’s time.
Will meet regularly with the faculty mentor on an agreed-upon schedule of topics. TAs are responsible for preparing thoroughly for these meetings. Topics include but are not limited to: principles of syllabus development, preparation of classroom materials, securing resources for the course, planning a class session, conducting discussions, making assignments, setting examinations, and grading.
Will participate in grading sessions with the faculty mentor as specified above.
Will attend every class meeting, unless otherwise advised by faculty member.
Will conduct review and discussion sessions as requested by faculty member.
Will prepare and conduct at least one class during the term under supervision.
Will fill out evaluation form supplied by DGS.