TA/TM Days: The Teaching Orientation Program

TA/TM Days is SFU’s most comprehensive orientation event for both new and veteran teaching assistants and tutor-markers. Meet your peers and get information and advice from experienced TAs and other members of SFU’s academic community. You will gain knowledge, skills and confidence for your teaching support roles.

Presented by the Centre for Educational Excellence in cooperation with the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and the Teaching Support Staff Union at SFU.

“TA/TM Day was a one-stop shop that provided me with the skills and knowledge to excel in my instructional roles at SFU.” – Jessica, BPK 

Summer 2021 TA/TM Day: The Teaching Orientation Program

All workshops for the Summer 2021 TA/TM Day will be offered virtually. See below for the full schedule and registration information.

Register here in advance for Zoom access to sessions 1, 3, 5 and 7 (plus the Welcome session and the TSSU Lunch Event).

Register here in advance for Zoom access to sessions 2, 4, 6 and 8.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meetings.

Schedule | Friday, May 14, 2021 | 9:00 a.m.–3:45 p.m.

9:00–9:50 a.m. | Welcome (access this session here) | CEE and TSSU

9:50–10:00 a.m. | Break

10:00–11:00 a.m. | Session 1

Inclusive Teaching in TAs’/TMs’ Practices

Bee Brigidi, Centre for Educational Excellence

This session will hold space for participants to gather and draw from each other’s teaching and lived experiences about empowering pedagogies that support:

  • Self-care and self-compassion practices amid pandemic and impacts in remote teaching
  • Creating braver and safer space for critical inquiry and respectful relationship building with students
  • Openness and support to students while planning and leading tutorials, leading discussions, holding office hours, and during other professional interactions with students
  • Cultural humility and deep connections to the geographical location, including subjugated histories, cultures, and languages of the Coast Salish traditional lands on which SFU sits.

10:00–11:00 a.m. | Session 2

Effective and Efficient Feedback on Written Assignments

Eilidh Singh and Amanda Wallace, Centre for Educational Excellence

Through modelling active learning strategies, this workshop demonstrates easy-to-implement strategies to facilitate effective grading for written assignments. Being a TA is a challenging job, with broad and time-consuming responsibilities and many hours devoted to grading written assignments. Assignments such as essays, lab reports, and response papers require you to closely read and assess not only the content but also the organization, intelligibility, and mechanics of assignments. Learning how to balance the necessity of giving effective feedback while keeping efficiency in mind is key. Facilitators will introduce systematic marking processes, time management techniques, and alternative and constructive forms of feedback. Participants will also learn about the various supports and resources available to TAs at SFU.

11:00–11:15 a.m. | Break

11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m. | Session 3

Place-based Learning While Sheltering in Place? Engaging Students Using Virtual Field Trips

Leah Wiener, Department of History

Remote learning presents surprising opportunities for place-based learning. Virtual tours and museum exhibits enable students to explore locations close to and far from home. In this workshop, we will examine the many online resources that enable TAs to plan engaging tutorial sessions that visit libraries, museums, heritage sites, and unique landscapes around the world. We will also use the SFU Library’s databases and digital collections to learn how to plan a virtual scavenger hunt.

11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m. | Session 4

Teaching Writing 10 Minutes at a Time

Jennifer Chutter, Interdisciplinary Studies

Teaching can feel overwhelming because there is little time to cover the course material in tutorial as well as to teach writing. Planning out the semester ahead of time will ensure that you can cover both the content and writing instruction. Using 10-minute writing strategies, spread out over the course of 12 weeks, will help to improve the quality of the writing, reduce the likelihood for plagiarism, and increase engagement with the course material.

12:15–1:15 p.m. | TSSU Lunch Event (access this session here)

1:15–1:30 p.m. | Break

1:30–2:30 p.m. | Session 5

“Teamwork Makes the Dream Work”: Getting Students to Work Successfully in Groups and Teams

Hannah Celinski, Faculty of Education

Why do students hate working in groups? Why do instructors assign group work at all? This session will help TAs foster community to prepare, manage, and assess successful group and team assignments. Come join the team!

1:30–2:30 p.m. | Session 6

Sparking Creativity: Tips and Tools for Developing Creative and Engaging Tutorial Activities

Lauren Knight, School of Communication

This session will introduce TAs to new tools and creative ideas to engage students in tutorial activities. The workshop will begin by outlining some tools that have worked for me as a TA. These include: SlidesGo, which has free graphic slides for Google Slides; Canvas’ free graphic design software; the Kahoot quiz and poll platform; and the power of an engaging case study! The session will combine a demonstration of some of these tools with tips for developing a case study based on tutorial objectives of the week. Simultaneously, attendees will be encouraged to participate in the breakout rooms and case study brainstorming in which they will have time to try to develop a creative tutorial activity based on sample tutorial objectives and learning goals. As this session hopes to demonstrate the importance of creativity in designing tutorial activities, the session itself will be accompanied by visually appealing slides, a sample Kahoot poll, and plenty of time for collaboration and discussion. Let’s get creative!

2:30–2:45 p.m. | Break

2:45–3:45 p.m. | Session 7

Active Learning Online: Tools, Tips and Tricks for Engaging Students

Dasha Berezhnova, Department of Political Science

This session is for teaching assistants who are new to online instruction and want some actionable strategies for keeping students engaged, or for experienced TAs who want new ideas for their toolkit. Keeping students motivated during an online tutorial can be challenging. This session covers four simple and fun active learning strategies, which are appropriate for a variety of purposes, and demonstrates free online tools that can be used to support active learning.

2:45–3:45 p.m. | Session 8

The Writing on the Classroom Wall: Enhancing Remote Tutorials with Zoom Annotation

Leah Wiener, Department of History

Beyond chats and polls, Zoom has a built-in feature that is excellent for engaging students through non-verbal participation. In this workshop, we will learn how to use the annotate function to foster community building, offer multiple forms of participation, and solicit student feedback in remote tutorials. To best participate in this session, participants should have the most recent version of Zoom installed on their devices. Computers are ideal as they offer more annotation features, but tablets and phones are also workable.

Other resources

In addition to these online workshops, self-directed, asynchronous learning will be available to TAs throughout the week via the Remote Teaching for TAs and TMs Canvas site. The online modules on the site provide teaching and facilitation strategies that TAs and TMs can use to create engaging learning experiences for undergraduates. Learn about: 

  • Facilitating Online Tutorials in Zoom/Blackboard
  • Marking Assignments, Discussions and Exams
  • Facilitating Active Learning in Tutorials and Labs
  • Communicating with Your Course Supervisor
  • Holding Office Hours Online
  • Supporting Student Success

Enroll at: canvas.sfu.ca/enroll/GW3C6K


E: ceeevent@sfu.ca
T: 778 782 7115

Six reasons you should go to TA/TM Day

#1 Improved tutorial skills

#2 Awareness of my role

#3 Empathy for students

#4 Tips that come from experience

#5 Support for multilingual students

#6 Increased confidence