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Fall GA Orientation

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					   Fall GTA Orientation
for Students with Laboratory Assignments



 Jacquelyn R. Duke, Ph.D.
        Fall 2007
    How to be an effective GTA
•   Definition
•   “Big Picture”
•   Major Duties
•   Tools and Resources
•   Helpful Hints
•   Pitfalls and Common Issues
•   Additional Useful Info
•   Training Opportunities

Panel Discussion
Training Presentation
                Definition
• GTA – Graduate Teaching Assistant
  – Funded by Dept.
  – Assist in undergraduate courses
  – Sciences – usually refers to teaching of labs
• GRA – Graduate Research Assistant
  – funded by research grant
  – Assist major advisor in research, or funded to
    conduct own research
            “Big Picture”
The greater your satisfaction with your
 job responsibilities, the more effective
       you will be as an instructor

• What’s in it for “me”?
• What if I have no previous experience?
                  Major Duties
• Lab Prep
  – May or may not required
  – Make it your policy to be as much a part of the set
    up as you can – it will only make you a more
    informed GTA
• Conducting Lab Exercises
  – Clearly define your role
• Lab Clean up
  – Again, will depend on your assignment
  – Observe all safety precautions before disposing of
    any chemicals and/or organic material!
               Major Duties


• Maintain Office Hours
  – How many??
  – Outside of lecture times!
  – Post your office hours
  – Office hours are held in grad student offices
                Major Duties
• Grading
  – Remember that confidentiality rules apply!
  – Clarify expectations with professor
  – Choose a level of feedback appropriate to the
    assignment
  – Schedule time for grading
  – Make comments clear and organized
  – Report regularly to the professor
                 Major Duties
• Attending weekly meetings
  – Be prompt!
  – Come prepared
  – Speak up if you feel you’re deficient
     • Professors usually assume you’re familiar with
       content
     • Can provide you with valuable resources
                Major Duties
• Overseeing LAs
    • LAs- Laboratory Assistants (undergraduate
      assistants in many science courses)
  – Clearly define your relationship (ask your
    professor)
  – Clearly define your expectations of them
  – Never leave them unattended unless you’ve
    been given direct authorization
  – Same goes for their access to students’
    grades
                      Major Duties
• Field trips
   – Ensure (well ahead of time) you are authorized to
     drive University vehicles/passenger vans
   – Guidelines for Driving on Behalf of Baylor:
      http://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php?id=14739
   – Know the University policy for what to do in the case
     of an accident
   – Never give students authorization to “meet you there”.
     We are required to provide transportation to and from
     off-site locations
                   Major Duties
• Attend Lecture Sections
  – May or may not be required
  – In your best interest, particularly if it’s is your
    first time in the course
  – Benefits:
     •   Better grasp of the material
     •   Relating your focus to that of the lecture
     •   Better relationship with the students
     •   Your attendance counts as hours worked
     Major Duties

• Attending Lecture Sections
  – Maintain Seating chart
  – Take attendance
  – Take class notes
• Conducting review sessions/study sessions
  – Reserve rooms with your Dept.
  – Make sure you have access to your room
              Major Duties
• Lecturing during professor’s absence
  – Your notes or the professors?
  – Make sure you have access to the room and
    A/V equipment
  – Excellent opportunity – great for CVs
              Major Duties

Other potential duties:
• Proctoring Lecture Exams
• Grading Lecture Exams
• Entering Lecture Grades
        Tools and Resources
• Blackboard
  – Your email login and password access BBoard
  – Bearspace – file storage
  – https://my.baylor.edu

• Baylor email account
                      E-mail
• Considered official correspondence

• Check frequently!
• Copy (cc) the professor on all official
  correspondence
• Don’t give out your cell phone/home number
  unless you want to be called; Students will call at
  all hours (sometimes professors will too.)

• If the professor does not reply to your email,
  make a phone-call or visit in person
            Helpful Hints

Miscellaneous issues (some of these are more
  than just hints – they’re actually policy)
     Working with the Professor
Starting out Right:
• Introduce yourself: If your professor hasn’t contacted
  you – make the first move. Set up a time to meet.
• Request a description of responsibilities
   – Work duties as well as classroom policies
• Ask to be introduced to each of the classes you will
  teaching
• Request a copy of the course syllabus
• Bring a checklist to your first meeting
• Ask if there are any days/times when you will have to
  work outside of “normal” hours (Saturday field trips,
  proctoring exams) and resolve conflicts early!
                Prior to Day One
• Obtain the lab manual – and read through it
• Keys
• Visit your classroom
  – lights, hood vents, gas/air valves, technology (test
    projectors etc.), water baths, centrifuges, hot plates…

                             • Create a cheat-sheet for
                               your first day (assume
                               you’ll be nervous)
                                – List items to be addressed,
                                  important points…
            Day One

• Exude confidence!
   – Your enthusiasm goes a long way!!!
• Introduction
• Safety
   – Point out fire extinguisher, eye wash, emergency shower, MSDS
     sheets, hazardous chemicals (e.g. latex allergies), etc.
• Course expectations
   – Clearly state classroom policies as well as your personal preferences
       • Students can’t respect your policies if they are unaware of them
       • Don’t assume policies “carry over” from the lecture section
              Be Professional
• Dress the part – wear a lab coat, close-toed
  shoes, etc.
  – You can’t enforce the rules if you’d don’t adhere to
    them yourself (this goes for food/drink in the lab as
    well!)
  – Serious consequences (for your Dept) if you choose
    to ignore safety procedures
• Remain professional at all times
  – It’s easy in a lab setting to become very comfortable,
    but remember that you are still the authority in the
    room
                Be Prepared
• Create your own syllabus
  – So many benefits!!

• Be concise in your teaching

• Perform experiments
  beforehand – know the
  pitfalls

• Accept that you can’t know it
  all – there will be questions
  you can’t answer
             Testing/Grading
• Scantron machine
• Allot hours
• Assume extra hours at the end of the semester.
  Do your own papers early, so that grading does
  not interfere!
• Grade and enter grades quickly
• Utilize Blackboard!
         Miscellaneous Advice
• Know where your professor is during your
  lab time
• Know when your professor’s office hours are
• Communicate frequently with your professor
  – grading, absences, etc.
• Meet regularly with your peers
  – Communicate issues you’re having with each
    other (confidentially)
  – Seek out TAs who’ve taught your course before
    Avoiding Pitfalls: Common
         Student Issues
• Know your authority ahead of time
• Ethical Behavior (honesty, plagiarism, cheating)
  – Familiarize yourself with University policy
  – Check with your professor on how they want you to
    handle such situations
• Special Services (OALA):
  http://www.baylor.edu/oala/
  – It is the student’s responsibility to inform you of their
    status
• Multiculturalism and gender issues
  When Something Goes Wrong
• Experiment doesn’t work
  – Don’t panic – failed experiments often present the best
    “learning tools”
  – Maintain a sense of humor
  – Isn’t science all about trial and error??
• Hazardous situations
  – Again, don’t panic
  – Have a plan in place
  – Have a list of important numbers located with your
    MSDS sheets – Fire, Police, Risk Management
               Additional Info
Know Your Environment:
• Familiarize yourself with the office copy machine
  and scanner
  – Before using office equipment, or taking office
    supplies ASK what the dept. policies are for your use
• What to do when things don’t go well with the
  professor
  – Don’t let situations fester – address problems early
         Handy Research Tips
• Libraries
   – Two Main Libraries: Moody and Jones
   – Maps, Circulation desks, Computers (laptops), Research
     Librarians
• BearCat: http://www3.baylor.edu/Library/
• OsoFast: ILL at Baylor,
  https://illiad.baylor.edu/illiad/logon.html
• Electronic Resources:
  https://www1.baylor.edu/ERD/Search/AdvancedSearch.a
  spx
• BearSpace: Storing Information,
  https://bearspace.baylor.edu/xythoswfs/webui
       Training Opportunities
• SET - Seminars for Excellence in
  Teaching
  – More on that in a bit, with Chris Rios…


• Teaching Commons
  – Designed for faculty/grad student interaction
  – http://www.baylor.edu/teachingcommons/
 Return to the “Big Picture”

The greater your satisfaction with
your job responsibilities, the more
     effective you will be as a
        Teaching Assistant
Questions??
           Panel Discussion

•   Jon Thomas
•   Stephanie Capello
•   Vanessa Castleberry
•   Tiffany Turner
•   Justin Tidmore
•   John Hall
•   Tony Chen
Past SET Electives

• "Preparing To Teach Your Class"
       with Dr. Tom Hanks
• "Preparing Effective Test Questions"
       with Dr. Darrell Hull
• "Engaging the Lecture Class: How Do I Involve Students When Class
  Size or Other Circumstances Call for Lecturing?"
       with Drs. Genie and Preston Dyer
• "Sage on the Stage and Guide on the Side: Three Models of
  Constructivist Teaching"
       with Dr. Tony Talbert
• "Teaching as Performance"
       with Dr. Marion Castleberry
• "Teaching in the Sciences"
       with Dr. Joseph D. White
• "Plato's Cave as Metaphor for Educators"
       with Dr. Anne-Marie Bowery
• "Encouraging and grading student writing"
       with Dr. Amanda Sturgill

				
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