Teaching Assistants’ Training Program
Through a peer-based support network, the Teaching Assistants’ Training Program prepares graduate students and teaching assistants for the realities and demands of teaching. Pedagogical training is an essential step in the professional development of graduate students in a variety of career paths, whether that be academe or other professional options. The TATP staff and their team of senior graduate student trainers and coordinators lead and develop workshops and job training days, research and create resources, and design and facilitate programming on all three campuses. For TATP metrics, see Appendix C.
Beginning in August 2018, the TATP initiated changes to its two certificate programs, the Teaching Fundamentals certificate and Advanced University Teaching Preparation certificate. The first substantive change was to replace the core/elective coding of workshops with four required themes or categories (educational technologies, equity and access in teaching and learning, reflective practice and teaching skills for academic and non-academic careers, teaching dossiers/statements). The second substantive change was the introduction of the Performance Teaching Practicum with a focus on Exploring Your Teaching Presence, a series of four interactive workshops where graduate students explore a variety of performance practices to develop their unique teacher identities while simultaneously challenging assumptions about what it means to be a good teacher.
In January of 2019, the TATP, working with the ACT and Communications teams at CTSI, launched its first four online modules, which correspond with the tutorial categories for first contract job training for teaching assistants. The four modules include: Labs & Practicals; Skill Development: Critical Reading and Reflection; Skill Development: Supporting Student Writing; and, Policies and Procedures for Teaching Assistants at the University of Toronto. Two additional modules (Grading and Discussion Based Tutorials) are in the final stages of development and should be ready for September of 2019.
Beginning in Summer 2018, the TATP worked closely with the ACT team to develop and implement a new participant tracking and registration system – EVE. This system was soft-launched in the TATP in August 2018 to coincide with the introduction of changes to the certificate program and the start of the Fall workshop series. With over 660 graduate student users enrolled, EVE allows participants to easily register and deregister from workshops, join waitlists for programming, track their own participation in the program (review completed workshops and certificate components), complete their final reflection pieces and make a certificate request. TATP staff can coordinate and record dossier reviews, in-class observations and consultations, all within the EVE system.
The TATP continues to champion teaching excellence at the University of Toronto and beyond, collaborating with offices, departments and divisions to enable accessible and inclusive practices across the institution. TATP’s graduate student staff provide training for first-contract teaching assistants on all three campuses and all divisions. TATP programming is available to all members of CUPE 3902, Unit 1 and registered School of Graduate Studies students.
Partnering with U of T’s AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) Office, the TATP promoted the introduction of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) across the University through new workshops and resources, including checklists for accessible teaching and learning. Working with ACT, the TATP also helped promote accessibility in Quercus through training for the TEST (IT End-user Support across the University) group.
Equally rewarding has been the TATP’s long-standing association with the Centre for International Experience (CIE), including the development of the Pre-arrival Teaching e-Orientation Program pilot project — a series of webinars and resources for international graduate students interested in teaching at U of T.
“I am grateful that TATP spurred on my practice of equity, inclusion, and access in higher education. These areas of activism were simmering around subconsciously in my mind and TATP brought them to the surface and gave me tools to incorporate them into my teaching. In all my work now I continue to innovate and experiment with more and more ways to be an inclusive, holistic teacher.”
Sandy Carpenter, Curriculum Developer & Program Coordinator, Academic Success and Leadership & Learning Intern, Accessibility Services
“My colleagues at TATP (shout out to Mike Kasprzak and Alli Diskin, in particular) thoughtfully anticipate the multiple needs of graduate students from various locations (in terms of cultural contexts, multilingual skills, and other sites of identity). Partnering on building resources allows us to help international students way-find more effectively once they arrive on campus and to better support them as they navigate their teaching personas in the classroom.”
Yaseen Ali, International Transition Advisor at the Centre for International Experience
“This is no hyperbole–I would not be where I am were it not for TATP. Through a tight-knit, supportive community of trainers, coordinators, and supervisors, I honed my teaching skills and grew to enjoy educational development work.”
William (Bill) Flanik, Senior Lecturer (Education-focused) of International Relations, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia