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Saturday, March 02, 2019

Preparing Your TA for the Job | Teaching Careers - Faculty Focus

The Teaching Assistant (TA) job is typically filled by an upper-level university student or graduate student. It’s a job that requires one to play several different roles, recommends Katherine Senko, instructional designer with more than 15 years of experience designing courses for various industries. She holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership.

First and foremost, the TA is a student and must complete all responsibilities to maintain this status. Second, the TA has a responsibility to the hiring professor. To the professor, the TA is the assistant and must abide by the requirements set out by the professor. Third, the TA has a responsibility to the students in the class. The role here is that of teacher, tutor, and occasionally advisor.

How does your school prepare TA’s for each of these individual and important roles? Many schools simply run their TA’s through the hiring process and those whose grades in the subject area are high enough qualify for the position. Ideally, the hiring body also prepares the TA’s for each role they will serve, as the student, as the assistant, and as the teacher. But in most cases, the professor is solely responsible for preparing the student to also become a competent TA.

Advice for faculty
It is important for both the TA and the professor to clearly understand all three roles. It helps if the professor sets ground rules early in the semester. As a professor, be sure to plainly communicate your expectations and be open to hearing any concerns of the TA. Remember, the TA is first a student, second an assistant, and third a teacher...

Hiring a TA can mean a welcome relief of the administrative duties of the classroom, but it does require careful preparation and ongoing communication. Clearly establish your requirements early. Guide the TA on how to prepare a lesson. Show the TA what you are looking for in your grading techniques. Emphasize the key points throughout the semester. Communicate openly and frequently. Make TA training part of your own preparation and the process should flow smoothly.

Source: Faculty Focus