TA Day: Graduate Student Conference on Teaching


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 conference, a number of TA Fundamentals eLearning modules will be available to all registrants:

  • Inclusive Pedagogy: What TAs Need to Know
  • Making the Most of Your Office Hours
  • 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 TA Fundamentals eLearning 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 Schedule: Wednesday September 6th, 2023 9:00am-12:00pm

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

Dr. Lisa Aikman, Acting Associate Director, TA Programs, CTL

Keynote Presentation - 9:10am to 10:00am

Collaboration is Key: Lessons from Indigenizing Climate Change Education

Sara Mai Chitty, Office of Indigenous Initiatives
Dr. Beth Hundey, Department of Geography and Environment
Serena Mendizábal, Community-Based Researcher and Community Organizer
Dr. Katrina Moser, Department of Geography and Environment

Keynote Description

A note from our keynote speakers: This team co-created Connecting for Climate Change Action (C4CCA), an award-winning, blended course that braids together Eurowestern and Indigenous sciences to provide learners with knowledge about climate change and empower them in their roles and responsibilities in climate change justice and action. In this keynote, four course co-creators reflect on their learning and the importance of collaboration in the process of creating the course over two years. We see our collaboration as a step in decolonizing curriculum and course development processes and an opportunity to re-envision the purpose of higher education. Panelists will address key questions including: 1) What philosophies underly your course and how are these philosophies connected to course development; 2) What did you learn about the role of collaboration in teaching and learning?, and 3) How has been being involved in the course changed how you envision the future of higher education?

About our Speakers

Sara Mai Chitty
Sara Mai Chitty is a storyteller and educator, Michi Sagig Anishinaabekwe, and a member of Alderville First Nation. Sara Mai is a Curriculum and Pedagogy Advisor at the Office of Indigenous Initiatives, and a subject matter and pedagogical expert for Connecting for Climate Change Action.

Beth Hundey
Dr. Beth Hundey is a settler to Southwestern Ontario and ally, and a Curriculum Specialist and an Assistant Professor in Geography & Environment. Beth’s has expertise as an environmental change researcher and specialist in online education. Beth is committed to bringing together diverse voices for climate justice and action.

Serena Mendizabal
Serena is a Cayuga Panamanian Wolf clan woman from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory with a Masters of Geography and Environment at Western University. Serena is a community-based researcher and community organizer driven by Indigenous governance and just clean energy futures

Katrina Moser
Dr. Katrina Moser is a settler to Turtle Island and an ally. She is a professor in Geography & Environment whose research focuses on climate and environmental change. She is privileged and excited to be part of an amazing team of educators developing a course that draws on Western & Indigenous sciences to provide a framework to address climate change.

Break - 10:00 am to 10:10 am

Concurrent Sessions A - 10:10am to 11:00am

A-1: Preparing for Your First Lab

What should I be doing before my first lab? How will I know what to say to my students? What is my job, anyway? This introductory session will prepare new TAs to facilitate their first lab sessions.

A-2: Preparing for Your First Tutorial

Should I be prepping material for my first tutorial? What is the difference between tutorial and lecture? How will I get students to participate? This introductory session will prepare new TAs to facilitate their first tutorials.

Break - 11:00 am to 11:10 am

Plenary Session & Closing Remarks - 11:10am to 12:00pm

Making Active Learning Accessible

The previous session introduced the concept of "active learning", whether that learning takes place in a lab or in a tutorial. By exploring some popular active learning strategies in depth, this session will explore ways to ensure all of our students are able to contribute to, and benefit from, that learning. We all have a role to play in making Western and accessible campus where all kinds of students can thrive!

Conference Information

Upcoming Conference

No upcoming conference is scheduled at present.


Registration Instructions

Note: Registration closes Wednesday September 6th, 2023 at 8:30am

  1. Login to Western Connect using your Western username and password.
  2. Go to the Event Calendars section and select the Centre for Teaching and Learning 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.


TA Day is held every year after Labour Day.


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


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 seven TA Fundamentals 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.

Making the Most of Your Office Hours

Holding office hours is one of the most common TA duties, but it can also be one of the most vague in terms of what is expected of you. This brief module offers tips and resources for TAs who will be holding office hours.

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.”