The Fall 2014 Annual College of Letters & Science Teaching Assistant Training

Thursday, August 28 - 9:00 to 4:30
3650 Mosse Humanities Building

At this full-day training event, selected Teaching Fellows from across the disciplines will cover a host of topics that TAs will find useful as they begin their fall teaching appointments. Various campus and college units will also be on hand to discuss strategies and resources to help TAs navigate the first day of class, work within a teaching team, interact with a diverse group of students, understand campus policies as they relate to their TA appointments, and integrate technology into the classroom.

The training is geared towards new TAs in the College of Letters & Science, but experienced TAs are welcome to attend, as are TAs from other UW-Madison schools and colleges.  Pre-registration is not required.

For more information on the Fall TA Training, call or email Brian Bubenzer, or 265-0603, or Sharon Yam, or 890-3850.


Small Group Workshops offered by the L&S Teaching Fellows

The L&S Teaching Fellows are winners of the annual Teaching Fellow Award. These fifteen graduate students specialize in a range of fields represented in the College of Letters & Science.  Nomination as Teaching Fellows acknowledges their outstanding success as students and Teaching Assistants at UW-Madison. Each year, the Teaching Fellows develop and lead a series of workshops for new and experienced TAs who attend the Fall TA Training. Those who attend the training will have the opportunity to participate in two small group workshops. These workshops include, but are not limited to, the followings:

Making Time and Space for It All: Balancing Teaching, Coursework, Research, and Life outside the Academy
Andy Davey, Department of Geography
Intended for all TAs

Graduate teaching assistants have to juggle a lot of responsibilities and priorities: teaching, course work, research, departmental service, conferences and workshops, grant writing—while still having time for a personal life. While everyone tackles this challenge differently, this workshop will offer you some strategies for balancing these responsibilities. We’ll discuss how to be efficient with your work as a TA while still being attentive to your student’s needs; how to integrate your teaching, coursework, and research; and how to manage time and space to stay as healthy and happy as possible.

Enhancing Your Teaching with Digital Tools
Ashley Hinck, Department of Communication Arts
Intended for all TAs

Digital technology has pushed its way into our classrooms: our students bring their experience from their digital lives to class with them, administrators are increasingly looking for teachers who can facilitate online discussions, workshops, and courses, and the best teachers use these ubiquitous digital tools in unique and innovative ways. However, the internet is a big place and is always changing. And as a teacher, it can be difficult to know where to start. This workshop will discuss what is at stake, how to enhance your teaching with digital tools, and best practices for using new tools in the classroom.

Challenges in Leading a Social Science Discussion
Barry Driscoll, Department of Political Science
Intended for TAs in the Social Sciences

Social scientists study concepts that are often abstract and difficult to grasp. This means the quality of discussion in section is very important. It is, therefore, important for TAs to know how well students understand the material. A social science TA can take advantage of the fact that there is rarely a 'right' answer to major questions. In this workshop, we will look at the common challenges in leading a social science discussion. The focus will be on how to get students to participate and engage in conversations. Sometimes group work or debates helps students engage, but a TA needs to recognize when students need to just listen to your careful explanation for five minutes! The workshop will discuss a variety of strategies, and how and when to apply them.

Holding the Container: Establishing Credibility in the Classroom
Scott Gerard Prinster, History of Science
Intended for TAs with no significant teaching experience

Students look to their teachers to set the terms and tone of our relationship with them, but how does an inexperienced teaching assistant know how to establish relationships conducive to a healthy classroom and a productive semester? Establishing your authority and trustworthiness as an educator is an important factor in relieving your students' confusion and reducing potential mistrust. In this workshop, we will discuss the concrete steps you can take to introduce yourself as a credible educator with explicit and clear course policies and expectations.

Making Discussion a Discussion: Keeping Students Engaged in Quantitative Classes
Chris Janjigian, Department of Mathematics
Intended for TAs in Quantitative Sciences

Have you ever been enrolled in a class where the only response to questions is silence? Can you recall the awkward feeling of waiting for someone—anyone—to speak up? Imagine what it would be like to be the instructor, instead of one of the students. Keeping students engaged in quantitative classes can be difficult, but it is also important in order to teach effectively. In this workshop we will discuss some basic techniques and key ideas for structuring discussion in a way that encourages students to participate. Participants will work in groups (by subject area) to produce review questions for the first day of discussion.

Tips for Positively Engaging Your Students: How to Reinforce Creative Thoughts
Andrea Larson, School of Social Work
Intended for all TAs

Do you tend to believe that answers to questions can be cleanly divided into "right" and "wrong"? Do you feel more comfortable with tradition than with innovation (be honest)? Is creativity a talent that you do not identify yourself as possessing? If so, then you may find yourself guilty of suppressing creativity in your classroom. This workshop will offer you tips on how to support a positive, engaged learning environment that reinforces creative thoughts, while still meeting the learning demands of the course. These tips will focus on your approach to the classroom, your use of course material, and your response to students using examples designed to apply to a variety of fields.