TA/TM Day is SFU’s traditional peer learning event for both new and veteran teaching assistants, international teaching assistants and tutor-markers. Meet your colleagues and get information and advice from experienced TAs and other members of SFU’s academic community. You will find out about campus resources, gain knowledge, develop skills and build confidence for your teaching support roles.

Presented by the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) with support from the Centre for Educational Excellence.

Schedule | Spring 2022 TA/TM Day | Friday, January 7

Workshops for the Spring 2022 TA/TM Day will take place in two Zoom rooms to allow for concurrent sessions. For access to all sessions, register for both rooms:

Register for Zoom Room 1 to access the opening plenary session, sessions 1, 3, 5 and 7, and the medical benefits information session.

Register for Zoom Room 2 to access sessions 2, 4, 6 and 8.

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

9:00–9:30 a.m. | Opening Plenary

Welcome and Information Session

Fiona Shaw (Centre for Educational Excellence), Amal Vincent and Rahil Adeli (Teaching Support Staff Union), Kristen Woo (Human Rights Office), Ikjyot Rehal (Sexual Violence Support and Prevention Office)

9:30–9:45 a.m. | Break

9:45–10:45 a.m. | Session 1

Survival Strategies for TAs and TMs

Rahil Adeli and Katie Gravestock (Teaching Support Staff Union)

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 my rights as a union member? 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
  • Roles and responsibilities of a TA/TM and what counts as work
  • Deciphering TUGs, logbooks and workload reviews
  • TA/TM safety
  • Essential health and safety rights
  • Problem solving and conflict resolution

9:45–10:45 a.m. | Session 2

Inclusive Language for Safer/Braver Classrooms

Chantelle Spicer (Sociology & Anthropology) and Tiara Cash (Psychology)

This session will give space for participants to think about the ways that we use language in the classroom, the affect/effect that language has on students marginalized by current education and social structures, and the role of language in teaching, social justice, and equity. Sessional content will/may include: understanding the power of language and inclusive language, examples of harmful or oppressive language and alternatives, and language as a part of social justice.

The session’s approach will recognize experiences participants may have had with hurtful language and the alternatives to hurtful language. Participants will be encouraged to engage with these ideas by working together in group discussion and digital whiteboards to break down certain aspects of our language that include not just common pitfalls in hurtful language (such as racist, sexist, or ableist remarks), but also more insidious terms (BIPOC, data, etc.).

Outcomes of this session will include not only recognizing the power we, as language users, have, but also practical tools for understanding how you, as a TA, can be a part of making more comfortable and safe learning environments for all students.

10:45–11:00 a.m. | Break

11:00 a.m.–12:00 noon | Session 3

So You’re Going to Be a TA: How to Ask the Right Questions

Michelle La and Megan Robertson (Centre for Educational Excellence)

Shh! Don’t let the secret get out—effective teaching often involves choosing the right questions. In this session, we’ll help you get ready for the semester so that you can create engaging and interesting tutorials and foster community in your classrooms. This session will lead you through a series of questions to help you define and reflect on your role as a TA. You also have the chance to practice developing questions that you can use in your classrooms. With the right questions, you can help create an active, inclusive, supportive learning environment where students will feel encouraged to participate and share their ideas. We don’t have all the answers—but we have good questions!

11:00 a.m.–12:00 noon | Session 4

“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!

12:00 noon–12:45 p.m. | Break

12:45–1:45 p.m. | Session 5

Scenarios and Solutions: Scheduling, Safety, and Everything In-Between!

Amal Vincent and Seamus Bright Grayer (Teaching Support Staff Union)

For many, working as a TA or TM is 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 interactive workshop will increase participants’ awareness of their roles and responsibilities as a TA or TM, identify various unsafe working conditions, and learn strategies and solutions for responding to common scenarios in their job.

Topics will include:

  • Responding to common situations encountered by TAs and TMs (e.g., too much marking, the process for taking sick leave)
  • TSSU member rights
  • Working and communicating with course supervisors
  • TA/TM workplace safety (e.g., COVID-19, bullying and harassment)
  • Problem solving and conflict resolution

12:45–1:45 p.m. | Session 6

Representation Matters: An Evidence-based Teaching Strategy to Make Tutorials More Inclusive

Elana Varner (Biological Sciences)

The stories and contributions of under-represented groups exist in every academic field and, to empower under-represented students, teaching assistants need to highlight them. In this workshop, TAs will learn to (1) find and share stories highlighting under-represented groups in their field, (2) provide course-related resources specific to students of under-represented groups, and (3) share the impact of shortcomings in their field on under-represented communities. By using these strategies during the workshop to find and share their own sources, TAs will leave empowered to relate their course to students of under-represented groups and broaden the perspective of all students.

1:45–2:00 p.m. | Break

2:00–3:00 p.m. | Session 7

Applying Intersectionality in the Classroom

Kalamity Hildebrandt (Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group)

In this session we will define intersectionality and explore its use as a methodology. This will include an exercise to expand our awareness about the range of student experiences and identities that might be in the room, and a discussion of concrete strategies for avoiding harm and making the classroom experiences as relevant as possible for all students.

2:00–3:00 p.m. | Session 8

Valuable and Engaging Student Work Feedback

Rose Rouhani and Kimia Aghaei (Interactive Arts & Technology)

The hardest part of our TA experience was using the proper methods to give constructive feedback to student work. We have gained a great deal of experience after providing feedback on 100+ projects and working with students to help them along the way. Feedback can range from code and research to art and design for various platforms. We intend to make the path clearer and pass on the knowledge that we have obtained to future TA/TMs.

By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Identify different types of feedback and know which approach to use, depending on their unique situation
  • Map the technique introduced for dealing with silences before providing feedback in their own discipline
  • Know how to approach student work with the right language

3:00–3:15 p.m. | Break

3:15–4:15/4:30 p.m. | Information Session

Medical Benefits Information Session

Odin Hall and Jasmine Fuladi (Human Resources), MaiLing Gao (International Services for Students), and Bahareh Jokar and Ali Versi (Studentcare)

Representatives from Studentcare, International Services for Students, and Human Resources will provide an overview and answer questions related to the various medical benefit plans available to teaching assistants, tutor-markers, and international teaching assistants.

Other resources

In addition to these online workshops, self-directed, asynchronous learning for TAs is available 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
  • 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

Follow @SFUteachlearn on Twitter for CEE event and activity reminders!


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