2019 TA Institute

The TA Institute runs Jan. 15–18 at UBC’s Vancouver campus and is open to any graduate student who is interested in teaching or TAing. This year, the TA Institute will focus on five different themes. Register for sessions below:
Schedule of Events (PDF)

TA’ing a Community Engaged Learning Course: Exploring the Roles, Tension Points and Opportunities for Professional Development

Tuesday, Jan. 15 | 10:00 am – 12:00 pm | IKBLC, Seminar Room (Room 2.22)

Theme: Teaching and Learning Spaces; Experiential Learning

In this session we will introduce community engaged learning (CEL) as a growing teaching strategy here at UBC. We discuss what community engaged learning is, its principles, and the role of TAs in relation to instructor(s), student(s) and community partners/stakeholders. We will explore the complexities, richness and challenges of these roles, and through discussion, activities and roleplay, we will enhance participants’ understanding of and skills that TAs can apply in community engaged courses.

Learning outcomes:
By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Be able to describe the principles of community engaged learning (CEL)
  • Develop awareness of the various roles of a CEL TAs that go beyond grading and assessment
  • Identify and practice the different skills of a successful CEL TA
  • Identify opportunities for professional growth in their own practice as a CEL TA.

Facilitators: Colin Dring, PhD student, Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems; Kyle Nelson, Community-engaged experiential learning officer, Centre for Community Engaged Learning
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Improving Your Time Management (in TAing)

Tuesday, Jan. 15 | 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm | IKBLC, Seminar Room (Room 2.22)

Theme: TA Wellness; Teaching Skills

Do you have trouble balancing your graduate studies and TA responsibilities? Do you stay up all night marking or preparing for class? Are you a procrastinator? If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, then this workshop is for you. Please come to this workshop prepared to be open and honest with yourself. This workshop will begin by helping you to identify your time management strengths and weaknesses. You will also learn a number of tried-and-true methods and receive resources that will help you to gain control of your day to day life. Finally, you will have some time to reflect and assess what you have learned to determine what will be your personal best practices to manage your life as a TA moving forward. Any personal technology that you use daily (phones, tablets, laptops, smart watches, etc.) are welcome to join you in this workshop, but are not required.

Facilitator: Jennifer Brown
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Canvas as an Experiential Learning Space

Tuesday, Jan. 15 | 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm | IKBLC, Seminar Room (Room 2.22)

Theme: Teaching with Technology; Experiential Learning

Canvas is a learning management system that offers a variety of tools to support student learning in different disciplines. Did you know that you could make your students create videos and share them with the rest of the class on Canvas? In this session, we will discuss the different tools and how you can use them to effectively engage your students. You will reflect and share best strategies that you will be able to apply to your own discipline.

Note: This is a hands-on experiential learning session, please bring your own laptop or tablet.

Learning outcomes:
By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Navigate the core functionalities of Canvas
  • Explore and experiment a variety of tools on Canvas (discussions, wikis, e-portfolios, peer reviewed assignments, Kaltura)
  • Reflect on how these tools could be used to create and facilitate different activities for your students in your discipline

Facilitators: Manuel Dias, Arnab Ray
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Leading Discussions

Wednesday, Jan. 16 | 10 a.m. – 12:00 pm | IKBLC, Seminar Room (Room 2.22)

Theme: Teaching Skills; Experiential Learning

Discussions are a valuable tool to engage students with the course material. However, facilitating a discussion can sometimes seem like a daunting task. What if the students are unwilling to participate? What if the discussion veers off-topic? What can we do to help the students walk away with a deep understanding of the subject? In this session, we will discuss strategies for the effective design and facilitation of discussion activities, using different discussion structuring techniques.

Facilitators: Emily Scribner, Rowshan Rahmanian
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Learning Analytics

Wednesday, Jan. 16 | 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm | HR Macmillian Building (Room 260)

Theme: Teaching with Technology

Learning Analytics is an emerging tool for understanding how students are engaging with and learning from course materials. This information can be used to improve instructional design and student outcomes. This workshop will also explore new analytics tools and research and engage participants in a discussion about what features and feedback could make learning analytics even more useful for teaching and learning.

Facilitators: Will Engle, Craig Thompson, Geoffrey Gooderham
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Making Space: Supporting Inclusive Classrooms

Wednesday, Jan. 16 | 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm | HR Macmillian Building (Room 260)

Theme: Teaching and Learning Spaces; Teaching Skills

As TAs, we are tasked with teaching highly diverse groups of students from a wide range of backgrounds. This may present some challenges but also opens up many opportunities for students. In this session, we will create strategies to quickly identify and mitigate potential obstacles to learning while supporting the positive benefits of diversity. We will address this by looking at the perspectives of multiple students as well as our own.

Facilitator: Natalie Westwood
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Self-Advocacy and Negotiation Strategies for TAs

Thursday, Jan. 17 | 10:00 am – 12:00 pm | IKBLC, Seminar Room (Room 2.22)

Theme: TA Wellness

Advocating for yourself and others as a Teaching Assistant (TA) can be uncomfortable. There are power dynamics between you, your department, your students and your instructors that can sometimes be hard to navigate. Our aim for this session is to help TAs learn effective self-advocacy strategies that will support their overall wellbeing. We will do this by first reviewing some common problems that effect TA wellbeing at UBC. Next we will talk about why it is important to attend to TA wellness and how TAs can advocate for themselves at work. We will do this by reviewing TA rights (according to CUPE 2278) and clarifying different employment duties. Building on this, we will discuss different strategies TAs can use to advocate for themselves and to develop self-care strategies around challenging situations related to their employment.
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Faculty-TA Relationship

Thursday, Jan. 17 | 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm | IKBLC, Seminar Room (Room 2.22)

Theme: Teaching and Learning Spaces; TA Wellness

Often as TA’s we focus on creating positive relationships with our students, but may forget about creating strong connections to the faculty members running the course. In this session we will be discussing strategies to set expectations regarding TAing and address any problems that may arise throughout the term with faculty members. Furthermore we will compile a list of resources that can support positive relationships and help mitigate any issues that arise.

Facilitators: Linda Horianopoulos, Natalie Westwood
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Designing High-Impact Learning Experiences

Thursday, Jan. 17 | 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm | IKBLC, Seminar Room (Room 2.22)

Theme: Teaching Skills; Experiential Learning

The experiential learning cycle (Kolb 1984) describes the process through which we learn from our experiences. In our roles as TAs and graduate instructors, an understanding of this process can help us to design and teach using high-impact strategies that promote deep learning in our students. In this session, we will explore how the learning cycle describes the construction and transfer of knowledge, and how we can make use of this process when teaching others (or trying to learn something ourselves) to help deepen and reinforce learning.

Facilitators: Joseph Topornycky, Shaya Golparian
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How your TAship Can Help Your Career

Friday, Jan. 18 | 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm | IKBLC, Seminar Room (Room 2.22)

Theme: TA Wellness

Gaining experience as a TA has clear benefits if you plan to continue in a teaching-related role, but the skills you gain can help in other career paths too. This interactive session will help participants reflect on and articulate the skills gained from being a teaching assistant. We will develop strategies for describing your teaching assistant experience in a variety of contexts (resumes, cover letters, and interviews). There will also be time to consider how working as a TA can illuminate career paths you might want to explore. Participants are welcome to attend whether or not they  currently have a specific career path in mind.

Facilitators: Danielle Barkley, Kaylee Byers
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Presentation and Guest Lecturing Skills

Friday, Jan. 18 | 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm | IKBLC, Seminar Room (Room 2.22)

Theme: Teaching with Technology; Teaching Skills

Your supervisor is out of town and has asked you to guest lecture for them next term. Oh no! The TA institute is here to help. In this workshop we will cover the planning and delivery of presentations, including presentation planning basics, how to effectively use powerpoint presentations and other technologies, and overcoming personal challenges in public speaking. We will also identify differences and similarities between presentations and guest lectures, and tweak our presentation basics to better fit a guest lecture scenario.

Facilitator: Austin Taylor
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