TA/TM Week: Orientation to Remote Teaching

TA/TM Day (or, for Fall 2020, TA/TM Week) is SFU’s most comprehensive orientation event for new or veteran teaching assistants and tutor-markers. Get information and advice from experienced TAs and other members of SFU’s academic community. 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 

TA/TM Week: Orientation to Remote Teaching

For Fall 2020, TA/TM orientation workshops will be offered virtually between September 8 and 11, 2020. See below for the exact dates, times and registration information. Note that times are subject to minor change.

Download the full schedule as a PDF

Register in advance via Zoom for access to all meetings:

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

Tue, September 8 | 1:00–2:00 p.m.

Introduction to Remote Teaching
Presenters: Nanda Dimitrov, Sarah Ford and Fiona Shaw, CEE, and Michelle La, Sociology & Anthropology


In this session, we will explore the role of TAs in remote teaching and discuss ethical principles in university teaching. You will learn about synchronous and asynchronous teaching approaches, become aware of campus resources for supporting student success, and have a chance to learn about the asynchronous learning opportunities for TAs through the Remote Teaching for TAs and TMs Canvas site.

Tue, September 8 | 2:15–2:45 p.m.

Welcome from TSSU

Tue, September 8 | 3:00–4:15 p.m.

Survival Strategies for TAs and TMs
: Ed Graham and Katie Gravestock, TSSU


What is expected of me as a TA/TM? What role does the course supervisor play? What is a TUG? What is a Base Unit? What’s the difference between a lab and tutorial? Do TAs/TMs have any benefits? What are members’ rights? Workshop participants will learn about the mechanics of their job as TAs and TMs, discover the resources and benefits available to them, their rights and responsibilities, teaching tips for the classroom, and more.

Topics will include:

  • How to read your contract: Base units, rates of pay, work hours required
  • The Collective Agreement and members’ rights
  • The roles and responsibilities of a TA/TM, and differentiating them from those of a graduate student
  • Deciphering TUGs, logbooks and workload reviews
  • Union benefits and deciphering them
  • TA/TM safety
  • Problem solving and conflict resolution
  • Working and communicating with course supervisors
Tue, September 8 | 2:30–3:30 p.m.

Introduction to Teaching with Zoom
Presenters: Olga Belikov, Bianca Brigidi and Amanda Wallace, CEE


This virtual workshop will focus on how to use Zoom as a tool for effective online instruction. We will demonstrate features in Zoom that can be leveraged for teaching and learning, as well as highlight best practices for online synchronous instruction. We will demonstrate how to use breakout rooms, whiteboards and the chat feature, and how to facilitate conversations. We will also address how you can improve the security of your sessions in light of issues some instructors have had while using Zoom.

Wed, September 9 | 1:00–2:00 p.m.

Navigating Your TA Assignment: Advice from Experienced TAs and Faculty
Presenters: Sheri Fabian, Criminology, Clint Burnham, English, Michelle La, Sociology & Anthropology, and Yang Song, Language Training Institute


Faculty members and experienced teaching assistants/tutor-markers from diverse disciplines will share advice and answer questions about managing your time while teaching online, engaging your students, creating community and setting up ground rules in your tutorial, holding online office hours and clarifying expectations with your course supervisor, among many others.

Wed, September 9 | 2:15–3:30 p.m.

Common Workplace Scenarios and Solutions
Presenters: Lea Hogan, Maria Cristina Albuquerque and Seamus Bright Grayer, TSSU


Working as a TA or TM is, for many, the first experience teaching or working with students, and it is common for TAs and TMs not to know how to respond to new workplace scenarios. This session aims to show new and veteran TAs and TMs how the Collective Agreement informs responses to such situations, and how it protects TSSU members. This workshop will increase participants’ awareness of their roles and responsibilities as a TA or TM, so they come away with strategies and solutions for responding to common scenarios.

Topics will include:

  • Responding to common situations encountered by TAs and TMs (e.g., too much marking, or the process for taking sick leave)
  • TSSU member rights
  • Working and communicating with course supervisors
  • TA/TM safety
  • Problem solving and conflict resolution
Thu, September 10 | 1:00–2:00 p.m.

Introduction to Teaching with Canvas
Presenters: Kar-on Lee and Christina Drabik, CEE


This workshop will address basic functionality in Canvas: you will learn about the integration of course materials and assignments, how to grade assignments in Gradebook, and how to set up discussion groups and communicate with your students effectively in Canvas.

Thu, September 10 | 2:15–3:30 p.m.

Introduction to Teaching with Blackboard Collaborate Ultra
Presenters: Christina Drabik and Kar-on Lee, CEE


The Blackboard Collaborate Ultra workshop will provide information on how this tool can be used to facilitate tutorials and record and share mini-lectures with your students. We will provide an overview of some of the features such as using breakout groups, delivering student presentations, sharing a presentation or document from your desktop and engaging students with polls. CEE’s Blackboard experts will answer your questions during the session.

Fri, September 11 | 1:00–2:00 p.m.

Teaching Across Cultures: Strategies for International TAs
Presenters: Nanda Dimitrov, Fiona Shaw, Bianca Brigidi, Amanda Wallace and Eilidh Singh, CEE


Join us to learn about cultural differences in instructor, TA and student roles, explore strategies for taking initiative and navigating power distance in TA/supervisor and TA/student relationships and discuss strategies for inclusive teaching and communicating across cultures in the SFU classroom. Participants will leave the session with a greater awareness of SFU’s diverse campus community, and resources for international TAs.

Fri, September 11 | 2:15–3:30 p.m.

A Day in the Life of a TA/TM: Case Studies in Classroom Management and Ethics
Presenters: Michelle La, Sociology & Anthropology, and Nanda Dimitrov, Fiona Shaw, Bianca Brigidi and Sarah Ford, CEE


In this interactive session, you will collaborate with a small group of TAs to develop effective solutions to challenging classroom management situations related to academic integrity, accommodation, and class disruption. You will become familiar with campus policies and resources that will enable you and your students to respond to these challenges and seek additional support if needed.

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 3910

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