TA Day: Graduate Student Conference on Teaching

Fall 2018 Conference

September 5, 2018
Room 40, Arthur and Sonia Labatt Health Sciences Building (HSB)

Opening Remarks - 9:00 am to 9:15 am

Nanda Dimitrov, Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL)
Lorraine Davies, Associate Vice-Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

Keynote Presentation - 9:15 to 10:00 am

To Be a TA is to Learn Twice
Professor Felix Lee, Chemistry

Introduction to TA Programs at Western -
10:00 to 10:15 am

Aisha Haque, Associate Director, Graduate Education, CTL

Coffee Break - 10:15 to 10:30 am

Concurrent Sessions A - 10:30 to 11:25 am

The First Day of Class (HSB 236)

Ken Meadows, CTL

Walking into the classroom on the first day can be intimidating for both students and TAs. Together, we will examine what you can do to ensure a successful beginning to the school year.

Facilitating Discussions (HSB 40)

Ana Gonzalez, CTL

Learn about starting and guiding class discussions effectively. Practice leading group discussions using Quescussion and other kinds of brainstorming techniques.

Time Management Strategies for TAs (HSB 240)

Tracey Ropp, Learning Skills Services

To be successful in the dual roles of student and TA requires a carefully planned balancing act. We will discuss time management strategies that can help you be an effective and efficient student and TA.

Concurrent Sessions B - 11:30 am to 12:30 pm

Critical Incidents in the Life of a TA (HSB 236)

Yoah Sui, TATP Instructor, CTL

This session discusses challenging student-instructor interactions using case studies that follow a semester in the life of a Western TA. You will walk away with a list of key resources and a set of strategies for success in your upcoming TA-ships.

Explaining Difficult Concepts in Science (HSB 40)

Christina Booker, CTL

Students often ask their TAs to help them understand tricky concepts presented in class. This session will provide specific advice on how to help undergraduate students succeed.

Surviving and Thriving in Canadian Academia (HSB 240)

Aisha Haque, CTL

This session for international graduate students will explore strategies to help you make a successful transition to Canadian academia. Topics discussed will include building a positive relationship with your supervisor, communicating in the classroom, and clarifying expectations for TA roles.

Lunch Break - 12:30 to 1:30 pm

The New TA Survival Kit (outside HSB 40)

  • Pick up your FREE boxed lunch in HSB 35.

  • Visit with representatives from the GTA Union (PSAC Local 610), Equity and Human Rights Services, Society of Graduate Students, the Wellness Education Centre, and Western Libraries. Learn more about the important resources these organizations have to offer and have your questions answered.

Concurrent Sessions C - 1:30 to 2:30 pm

Helping Your Students Write Better (HSB 236)

Paul Schmidt, Writing Support Centre

This session will focus on how TAs can help their students learn expectations for academic writing, and help them to become better writers.

Dealing with Difficult Students (HSB 40)

Mike Atkinson, Psychology

Many TAs experience occasional situations in which students become “difficult” or disruptive. In this session, we discuss strategies you can use to deal with student behaviour that interferes with classroom learning.

Documenting Your Teaching for Future Careers (HSB 240)

Karyn Olsen, CTL

This session shares strategies for effectively documenting your teaching experiences. Join us to learn how to identify the diverse skills developed during a TA-ship so that you can better emphasize them in future job searches

Coffee Break - 2:30 - 2:45 pm

Thriving as a TA: Panel of Outstanding TAs -
2:45 to 4:00 pm

Introductory Words: Graduate TA Union (PSAC Local 610)

Panel: Diana Fernandez (Hispanic Studies), Erika Katzman (Health and Rehabilitation Sciences), Jina Kum (Pathology and Laboratory Medicine), and Adam Roy (Music Theory)

Experienced TA panelists will share strategies for effectively fulfilling the TA role, and address audience questions.Experienced TA panelists will share strategies for effectively fulfilling the TA role, and address audience questions.


Conference Information


Registration Instructions

  1. Login to CareerCentral 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.


TA Day is held every year on the Wednesday after Labour Day.


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


This one-day conference introduces graduate students to teaching at Western and helps prepare them for their roles as Teaching Assistants. TA Day has welcomed new graduate students to Western for over 30 years.

Conference highlights include a keynote presentation by an award-winning faculty member and a panel of experienced Teaching Assistants from across the disciplines. Participants choose from a variety concurrent workshops that focus on different teaching topics including: facilitating discussions, managing difficult situations, communication strategies, and more. Graduate students also have the opportunity to hear from key campus partners including Western Libraries, the Writing Support Centre, Learning Skills Services, the Wellness Education Centre, the TA Union (PSAC Local 610), and the Society of Graduate Students.


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.
  • The conference offers a lot of choice to participants. Pick the sessions that are most relevant to you.
  • Lunch is offered free to participants who register.

You may also be interested in these programs:

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.”