Guide for New Teaching Assistants

Welcome to the Guide for New Teaching Assistants! We have created this short collection of resources to give new teaching assistants (TAs) the basic tools to start on their teaching journey.

What is in the Guide for New TAs?

The Guide for New TAs is divided into three main sections: Before Your First Day, Introduction to Teaching and Learning Strategies, and Reflecting on Your First Semester. Each section contains a few smaller modules, which will introduce you to some fundamental ideas you may need for a successful first semester. You can navigate through the modules on the website or download a PDF of the entire guide, which contains all the same information.

Complementary Activities

We have also created a set of complementary activities to go with the online modules. These are designed to help you understand and apply the material presented in the guide. There is nothing major – it’s not extra homework – just a few things we thought may help you feel more confident as a new TA. Note: if you are planning to use the downloadable PDF version of the Guide for New TAs, all these activities are already integrated into the document, so you don’t need to download both.

Lightbulb symbolThe lightbulb means it’s your turn! We use this symbol at the end of each section in the Guide for New TAs when there is a complementary activity for the section you are reading. The lightbulb will be filled with the icon for that specific section. The complementary activities book also includes the same section titles, in the same order, so it’s easy to navigate.

How should I use the Guide for New TAs?

We understand being a new graduate student can be exceptionally busy, which is why the guide is divided into three sections. Each is designed to give you what you need at different points in the semester, so you don’t need to go through everything at once.

1. The section Before Your First Day will provide you with a short introduction to teaching at U of G, introduce you to some important resources at the University, and help you prepare for your very first class. We recommend reading this section before you begin work as a TA.

2. The section about Teaching and Learning Strategies is a great way to add some new tools to your repertoire or when you need to grade your first assignment. We recommend reading this section during the first few weeks of the semester.

3. The section Reflecting on Your First Semester is for exactly that, a thoughtful opportunity to stop and look back at your first semester of teaching to reflect on what went well and what you would like to change for the future. We recommend reading this section towards the end of your first semester.

However, this is all just a suggestion, and you can read whatever is most helpful for you throughout the semester. The guide is meant to be flexible!

What Comes Next?

In addition to the Guide for New TAs, the Office of Teaching and Learning offers a range of programming for graduate students. This includes the annual Graduate Student University Teaching Days (GSUTD) and ongoing programming through the University Teaching Foundations program. Both provide opportunities to learn about teaching through workshops, networking events, and guest speakers. Visit the Graduate Student Programming Overview for more information.

The Guide for New Teaching Assistants is partly adapted from the University of Guelph’s TA Survival Guide, 12th Edition (2013).

The previous TA Survival Guide drew from a number of resources, and where possible, we have included these references throughout the guide. However, for some resources that are no longer available, we have simply included them in the list below.

  • A Handbook for Teaching Assistants. (2007). Queen’s University
  • Benoit. (1997). First Day Issues GTA Workshop Handout. Virginia Tech University.
  • Bixler. (1997). Leading Discussions GTA Workshop Handout. Virginia Tech University.
  • Christensen Hughes, J. and Hendry, J. (1998). TA Handbook, 1998-1999. University of Guelph.
  • Dayman, J. (2000). Collecting and Using Mid-semester Feedback. University of Guelph.
  • Graduate Students’ Day Package. (1995). University of Guelph.
  • Instructional Resource Guide for New Faculty & Graduate Teaching Assistants. (1999-2000). University of South Florida.
  • Naeth. Teaching Resource Manual. (1993). University of Alberta.