Recognizing our TAs

The immense work and time that TAs dedicate to preparing tutorials, encouraging conversation among students, and grading papers sometimes go unnoticed by students. One way to acknowledge them is the TA Teaching Excellence Awards. Nominations are open until February 25 and recognize the work of Teaching Assistants at U of T. Created by the Teaching Assistants’ Training Program, it “seeks to value the work of TAs who regularly inspire and challenge undergraduate students.”

Most of my classes have tutorials which allow for small-group interactions and discussions. The kind of engagement that tutorials offer is remarkable and impactful on my learning, and I know from my peers that they feel the same way.

In my history, political science, anthropology, and women and gender studies classes, the number of students ranges from 70 to 1000 students. Luckily, these classes have tutorials. With most capped at 25 students maximum and sometimes as small as 10, the TA can really help us engage with the material and answer our questions directly.

For many of us first-year students, it’s our first time delving into the subject. TAs assist enormously with this transition but can still make a significant impact on the learning experience for any first- or upper-year student.

Often, TAs grade my papers, and it’s best to know from them what they’re looking for. Before major assignments are due, TAs often have writing tutorials to help us construct a thesis, brainstorm ideas, and learn how to properly cite. They also help explain complex concepts, which I’ve found particularly helpful in political science. In that class, my TA asked us to anonymously write down which topics we’d like for her to explain in detail. Additionally, she has office hours set every week that give us the opportunity to speak one-on-one and ask any other questions.

Not only do TAs enhance the learning process for me, but they also make the learning far more individualized. Sitting in Con Hall doesn’t give me what tutorials give me. In small tutorial settings, though, my opinions are heard and questions almost immediately answered.

Now until February 25, students and faculty have the chance to recognize the contributions of TAs to student learning and the U of T community as a whole. Winners receive monetary compensation, a certificate, and are invited to the Tri-campus TA Day event as part of the TA Award winner panel. Whether or not they win or are nominated, they all deserve a massive thanks.

Find out more about the TA Teaching Excellence Awards here: