New TAs

TA Orientation

TA Orientation (TAO) will help you get prepared to teach at UCSB! It is required of all first-time UCSB TAs and Readers with secured TA or Reader appointments for anytime in 2022-23, even if duties will not begin in Fall. TAO consists of online modules and attendance at a live webinar and in-person workshops at UCSB just before Fall Quarter instruction begins. 

TAO is co-sponsored by the Graduate Division and Instructional Development. Your department may have additional TA orientation meetings that you must also attend.

  • Register for TA Orientation as soon as possible to get updates and announcements about TAO and other TA training opportunities.
  • Online modules will be available in early September.
  • Monday, September 19 from 6 - 7:30pm: Live webinar with Experienced TA Panel Discussion and Q&A
  • Tuesday, September 20 from 10am - 12pm: Workshops on campus
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A teacher explaining something to a student while standing in front of a whiteboard

"I enjoyed the variety of workshops and the opportunity to meet other TAs in other departments."

~Anonymous Graduate Student TA

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Person writing on whiteboard

The Teaching Assistant (TA) Role

As a Teaching Assistant (TA), you are responsible for providing supplemental support and instruction to students who are taking a large lecture course. Where the instructor is responsible for delivering new instructional material to all registered students (sometimes up to 1000 at a time!), TAs deliver more personalized instruction to small groups of students, around 25 at a time. TAs are the “front-line” of instruction and are usually able to form more individual connections with students than an instructor of a large lecture course. In contrast, Readers (which is another type of academic appointment for graduate students) are not responsible for running any class meetings. They primarily assist instructors with preparing and grading assignments.

You may be a TA for a Discussion Section or a Lab Section. Here are some examples of the kind of work you’ll be doing in class.

Discussion Section

Lab Section

1-3 Sections per week, usually 18-25 students each

1-3 Sections per week, usually 18-25 students each

Guide class discussion of course material

Supervise laboratory work and enforce laboratory safety regulations

Facilitator, not lecturer

Demonstrate use of laboratory equipment

Review major course assignments (essay, project, exams, etc.)

Review relevant theories/methods

Grade and answer questions about homework

Grade and answer questions about the lab/homework

 

Main Responsibilities of a Teaching Assistant (TA)

This information below is a general list that may or may not apply to the specific course you are TAing for, but is a good place to start if you are a new TA at UCSB. See many of our other great practical resources in the Course Planning and Engaging Students sections of this website, or join us for a workshop.

TA Responsibilities PDF

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TA vs Instructor Responsibilites

 

Tips for New TAs

As a new TA you may feel nervous, excited, and a bit overwhelmed all at the same time. The resources here will help you feel more confident.

Talk to the teaching team (instructor and other TAs, if applicable) on the types of activities that should be done and the level of consistency that is required across sections taught by different TAs. 

  • Ask your instructor and fellow TAs if they have resources from previous quarters that you can use…

  • ...Or plan to collaborate as a teaching team to prepare something new together.

Your grading responsibilities will depend on the class, and may include essays, tests, quizzes, homework assignments, discussion forums, lab reports, etc. 

  • Be prepared to provide feedback on written work (essay and short-answer questions) to help students improve on future assignments.

  • Use Gauchospace or GradeScope for quizzes and exams with multiple question types, including digital and handwritten work where applicable.

  • Before the exam: You may be asked to print exams, scoring sheets, and/or collect them from a printing service. Be sure to understand the protocols for proctoring.

  • During the exam: You will distribute exams and/or scoring sheets to students and circulate the room to monitor progress and answer questions. 

You will need to keep a gradebook and organize your lesson plans and other teaching or grading materials electronically and/or physically. Download your course rosters via eGrades  or GauchoSpace as an Excel sheet. Create your own private gradebook to track student progress and/or use the Gauchospace gradebook so students can also track their own progress in the course. 

You will need to create a variety of teaching materials, which could include syllabi, visual aids, handouts, communication channels, and GauchoSpace activities or assessments (for the course and/or for your sections).

During office hours you answer student questions, assist with homework, and handle student issues as they arise. 

  • Typically two office hours per week, online and/or in-person (check with Instructor). 

  • “Drop-In” style: You can set it up in a single block of two consecutive hours, or spread out your hours over two days, one hour each. 

  • “Pre-Booked” style: Have 15 minute appointment slots available for students to book ahead of time, adding up to two hours. Try the Gauchospace Scheduler or Google Calendar appointments, which are both supported by UCSB.

You should attend all lectures with your students to keep apprised of instructional material, answer questions, or facilitate review sessions. If you aren’t required to attend lectures and do not consider yourself a content “expert”, ask your instructor how you might best prepare for the section. And remember: your general knowledge of the discipline gives you enough background to prepare to teach your novice students.

Keep up with all reading assigned to students. Note content that could be confusing and places that link directly to course assignments. Use those notes to plan learning activities for section.

  • Your instructor should provide you with a free copy of any required teaching material (textbooks, course readers, etc.). 

Under the UC Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harrassment, TAs are not considered a “confidential resource” and are thus required to report sexual violence, sexual harrassment, or other conduct prohibited by the policy to a Title IX officer. This means that if a student (undergraduate OR graduate) reports to you, while you are operating in your role as TA, that they have experienced any of the above, you are obligated to report it. 

Communicating with the Instructor

Be sure to remain communicative with your instructor throughout the quarter! Here are a few tips to help you stay in touch with your instructor, but you can also review additional information on the Faculty-TA Team in our Course Planning resource book.

Questions to Ask Your Instructor

  • What do you want section to look like?
  • What has/hasn’t worked before in this class?
  • What activities have been done that you want me to replicate?
  • What resources already exist for this course?
  • Who else has TA’d for this class that I could talk to?
  • What will the following list of responsibilities look like for this class?

Contact Us

TA Development Program
1130 Kerr Hall
id-tadp@ucsb.edu
805-893-2972