TA Day: Graduate Student Conference on Teaching

Description

TA Day has welcomed new graduate students to Western for over 30 years, introducing graduate students to teaching at Western and helping prepare them for their roles as teaching assistants. In addition to 3 hours of synchronous online sessions on the morning of September 7, a number of asynchronous learning modules will be available to all registrants:

  • Inclusive Pedagogy: What TAs need to know
  • Mental Health 101: Supporting student wellness
  • Preparing to Grade
  • Teaching Your Students to Write Better
  • 10 Techniques to Explain Difficult Concepts in Science
  • Time Management for TAs

This year's conference will be hosted online in an OWL site, which will contain Zoom links for synchronous sessions, TA resources, and additional asynchronous modules.

Please note: This is an optional professional development event that does not count towards the Western Certificate in University Teaching and Learning.

TA Day 2021 Synchronous Conference Schedule

September 7, 2021 from 9:00am to 12:00pm EDT: Online


Welcoming Remarks - 9:00 am to 9:10 am

Dr. Melanie-Anne Atkins, Acting Associate Director, Graduate Programs, CTL

Concurrent sessions a - 9:10 am to 10:00 am

For New TAs - The First Day of Class

This introductory session will guide incoming students through how to prepare for and succeed in their first day facilitating a lab or tutorial as a TA.

For Returning TAs - Welcoming All Your Students Back to the Classroom

How can we help our students feel welcome in the face-to-face learning environment and prepared to meet the challenges it brings? This session will offer strategies for fostering supporting and inclusive classrooms and for guiding students through the transition from remote to in-person learning.


Break - 10:00 am to 10:10 am

Keynote Presentation - 10:10 am to 11:00 am

jeffpreston"Wait, what if WE are the problem? Pathologizing academic ableism"

Dr. Jeffrey Preston, Assistant Professor of Disability Studies, Kings University College at Western



About Dr. Preston

Jeff Preston, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of Disability Studies at King's University College at Western University where he teaches classes on disability, popular culture and policy. A long-time advocate and motivational speaker, Jeff's work focuses on the intersection of disability, subjectivity, biopower and culture. Jeff's first book, The Fantasy of Disability, was published in 2016 by Routledge.


Break - 11:00 am to 11:10 am

Concurrent sessions B - 11:10 am to 12:00 pm

For New TAs - Facilitating Discussions IRL

Discussions are an integral part of many tutorials and labs. For all their learning benefits, they can also be unpredictable or even a little intimidating for new TAs or TAs who have largely facilitated discussions online. This session will provide an overview of the benefits and qualities of a good discussion and provide strategies for fostering equitable participation in class discussions.

For Returning TAs – Making Your TA-ship Meaningful: Senior TA Panel

What is my impact as a TA? How can I ensure my work is meaningful for my students and for my own professional development? In this session, upper-year TAs from across disciplines will share their reflections and advice on making your TA work a rewarding part of your graduate career.


Conference Information

Upcoming Session

There is no upcoming session scheduled at present.

Registration

Registration Instructions

  1. Login to Western Connect using your Western username and password.
  2. Go to the Centre for Teaching and Learning section and select Event Calendar.
  3. Search for and select the event you wish to register in. Details and a description of the program will appear.
  4. Select the Register for this Event button.
  5. You will receive an automated confirmation email to your Western email account. 

If you have any questions or problems registering for this event, please consult our help guide or contact ctl@uwo.ca.

Offered

TA Day is held every year after Labour Day.

Audience

All incoming graduate students. You do not have to be a Teaching Assistant.

Outcomes

By the end of the day, each student will be able to:

  • apply strategies for engaging undergraduate students and teaching effectively in their own disciplinary context
  • describe the roles and responsibilities of Teaching Assistants and identify the principles and policies that guide their work with students
  • find and recommend teaching and learning resources to students, such as writing and learning skills services, library resources, and wellness support
  • identify future teaching development opportunities that they can pursue throughout your graduate career at Western.

What to expect

  • You do not have to be a Teaching Assistant to attend TA Day. All incoming graduate students are welcome.
  • Sessions are interdisciplinary and led by experienced instructors.
  • Register to receive access to our OWL site where both synchronous sessions and asynchronous modules will be hosted.

Asynchronous Sessions

Registering for TA Day also gives participants access to the following six eLearning modules:

Inclusive Pedagogy: What TAs need to know

As TAs, how we interact and engage with our students influences the quality of the experiences undergraduate students have in our courses. Being well informed and taking actions that make our classrooms more diverse, anti-racist, equitable, and accessible will allow all students, especially those who are racialized or marginalized, better opportunities to succeed and thrive. Explore this module for an introduction to inclusive pedagogy – an approach to course design, assessment, student engagement and teaching that incorporates the principles of diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion to encourage and enrich student learning.

Mental Health 101: Supporting student wellness

What is mental health and how can you support it? Take this module to learn the basics about mental health, including the resources available to you and your students. Then, learn a simple framework you can use to support wellness in the classroom, during your office hours with students, and in your own life.

Preparing to Grade

Grading can feel like a big responsibility and, in a lot of ways, it is! This module will guide you through some of the "need to know" basics to get you prepared to grade assignments as a Western TA, including an introduction to the standards that should guide your grading, practical tips to manage your time, and clear strategies for ensuring you are as fair and effective as possible.

Teaching Your Students to Write Better

This session is brought to you by the Writing Support Centre. “Students can’t write” has been a popular lament amongst professors for centuries. Writing is difficult, but with proper instruction, your students will be able to negotiate the complex world of academic prose. If becoming a better teacher by learning strategies that will help your students write better is not enough incentive to view this asynchronous module, then consider that a well-written paper is much less time-consuming to grade than a poorly-written one.

10 Techniques to Explain Difficult Concepts in Science

Every discipline in Science has a number of difficult and complex concepts that are not always intuitive. The good news is that as a TA, you can you help students learn by the way you explain these concepts in class, in the lab, or during your office hours. This module gives you 10 key strategies to help prepare you for this task. After all, when you can explain it, you truly understand it!

Time Management for TAs

This session is brought to you by Learning Development & Success. To be successful in the dual roles of student and TA requires a carefully planned balancing act. The two videos and accompanying workbook in this module will explore a variety of time and self-management strategies that can help you be an effective and efficient student and TA.


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Testimonials from TA Day Participants

“It was great to have such diverse and informative sessions. The keynote speaker was the highlight of the day.”

“The presenters connected well with us in the audience and spoke about topics that I felt were of importance to everyone. Their speeches were humorous as well as educating and they touched on difficult subjects without oversimplifying them. I felt like a colleague getting advice rather than an unknowledgeable student in those moments, which reflects the position I am supposed to be in as a graduate student.”

“The sessions were very interesting because they provided new information (that would be difficult to find elsewhere) that was directly applicable our lives as TAs. The presenters were friendly, explained things clearly, and took the time to answer questions. Their advice was relevant and easy to follow.”