October 05, 2016

Why they do it: TA/TM Day presenters discuss their roles

The practical, experience-based advice that veteran teaching assistants share is often extremely valuable for new TAs and TMs. Workshop leaders also benefit from the exercise of preparing and sharing their knowledge.

Every September and January, current and aspiring teaching assistants and tutor-markers attend the orientation sessions that make up TA/TM Day.


Submit a proposal for the Fall 2018 TA/TM Day by April 13, 2018.


Many of the sessions are led by veteran TAs who share lessons from their own experience. Their motivations for doing so are quite individual. For Lisa Poole, a PhD candidate in sociology and anthropology, it’s all about “a love of teaching and learning.”

Emma Mileva, a doctoral student in linguistics who presented for the first time this past spring, sees it as an opportunity to “share my knowledge with new TAs/TMs on a topic that I feel passionate about and have acquired some practical knowledge of.”

And Jennifer Thomas, a doctoral student in sociology and anthropology, has used her presentations as a means of exploration: “I wanted to learn more about anti-oppressive pedagogy, and because I had not encountered any trainings or workshops to help me integrate anti-oppressive principles into my teaching, I decided to do my own research and facilitate a workshop for others.”

TA/TM Day sessions are generated through an open call for proposals. That means any TA, TM or sessional instructor (as well as SFU faculty and staff) may propose a 75-minute presentation on a general or discipline-specific topic.

For example, Poole, who also works as a graduate writing facilitator, recently partnered with Renee McCallum of the Student Learning Commons to co-facilitate a session on “Coaching, Not Correcting: How to Work with Students’ Writing,” while Mileva has presented workshops on “Taking Advantage of the Cultural Diversity in the Classroom.”

All three presenters have found their workshop experience positive. “Participants are enthusiastic and happy to engage,” says Poole.

More than that, the facilitators themselves leave with greater insight and understanding. Thomas notes: “Facilitating … workshops enabled me to develop and fine-tune some of the teaching tools I use in my own classes. Preparing these workshops also helped me to communicate with folks in other disciplines who do not necessarily use the language of anti-oppression.”

What would they say to other TAs who might be interested in presenting? Poole has just two words of advice: “Do it!”

Submit a proposal

UPDATE: The next TA/TM Day will take place on September 7, 2018. Presentation proposals are due by Friday, April 13, 2018.

How to submit a proposal >>

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