What Makes a Great TA?

By Cheryl Jeffs, Educational Development Consultant, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning

The 3rd annual Teaching Assistant Orientation (TAO) at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning was attended by over 150 graduate students at the University of Calgary.  One of the sessions was a panel of award winning TAs who gave their perspective on What Makes a Great TA.  This interactive session is always well-received and this year 93% of the participants who responded indicated the session was Useful and/or Very Useful in their role as a TA.  Students also wrote about the most valuable thing they learned from the TA Orientation and several commented on the panel presentation: “Hearing from the TAs and what works well, and what they have done to be successful”, and “the valuable tips to be a TA recommended by award winning TAs”.

This year the enthusiastic panel presenters were Sarah Anderson from the Cumming School of Medicine (Medical Education Specialization), AnneMarie Dorland, Faculty of Arts (Communication, Media and Film), and Jess Nicol, Faculty of Arts (English).  Their presentations focused on the practical elements of being a TA, including time management and organization, to the humour and growth that can evolve from embarrassing moments (and how to recover), and how the role of a TA is a bridge between the instructor, content, and students.  Each of the presenters are recipients of the University of Calgary Teaching Award (Teaching Assistants), and members of the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning Teaching Academy.

The panel format consists of three TAs who present on their experience and learning on how to be a great TA.  Dr Cheryl Jeffs moderates the panel and the Q&A that follows.  The session is also offered as a standalone workshop in the Emerging Teachers Development program.  Participants in the Emerging Teachers Development Program can earn a Badge, and it is also one component of the Graduate Student Certificate in University Teaching and Learning.

What Makes a Great TA? is a My GradSkills endorsed workshop. A copy of the panel presentation flyer and descriptions is attached.

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About cljeffs 5 Articles
Cheryl L Jeffs, EdD, is an educational development consultant and faculty member at the University of Calgary, Educational Development Unit, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning. Cheryl is committed to excellence in teaching and learning through a range of research-informed educational programs and initiatives, workshops, consultations, and collaborative projects. With a diverse background in professional and educational development, and adult education, Cheryl’s research interests include formative feedback for teaching development, and graduate student teaching development. She is the chair of the University of Calgary Conference on Postsecondary Learning and Teaching, and Editor of Papers on Postsecondary Learning and Teaching (PPLT).

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