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					                           Guide for Teaching Assistants

WHAT IS A TA?


A teaching assistant, or TA, is a graduate student employed by the University to assist a course
supervisor with the instruction and/or evaluation of students in a course.


HOW TO GET A TA JOB


1. Applying for a Job
Look for job postings on the AGSEM bulletin board in your department. New jobs should be
posted according to the following schedule:


              March 1 for summer courses
              March 15 for Fall and Full Year courses
              October 15 for Winter courses


Each job posting should include all you need to know about the position: course title and number,
estimated number of available positions, total number of hours of work per term, effective dates of
appointment, summary of required duties, salary, required qualifications, and the application
deadline. When you apply, you can request to be considered for all other TAships within the
department for which you meet the qualifications.


2. Deciding Who Gets Hired
The ―Category/Priority Pool‖ system divides TAs into three groups:

          Category 1 = PhD1—4 or Masters 1,2 who have not been TAs before (typically new
           students);
       
                                     *
           Category 2 = PhD1—4/5 or Masters 1,2 who have been a TA at least once (i.e. ―priority
           pool” TAs);
          Category 3 = PhD5/6+ or Masters 3+ who have been TAs before (i.e. ―students who have
           left the priority pool‖).

*
    Students who began their PhD at the PhD2 level, remain in category 2 until PhD5.
When hiring, preference is given to the most senior, qualified Category 2 TAs. If the number of
qualified applicants is greater than the number of positions, then appointments are granted, in
decreasing order of priority, to Category 2 TAs registered as PhD5 (if still Category 2), PhD4,
then PhD3, PhD2, Masters2, PhD1, Masters1. If there is a tie between individuals with equal
priority, then the applicant who has worked the greatest number of hours will be appointed. If the
two applicants are still tied, then the choice is made by random draw.
If you have never been a TA before, don't worry! There are spaces reserved for Category 1
applicants. This helps to ensure that new TAs get a chance to join the pool. The number of
positions that are reserved is equal to the number of former Category 2 TAs who left the priority
pool in the last term. Your department’s administrator uses this number to determine the number
of new applicants who can be hired. After these positions are filled, priority pool applicants are
hired. If positions are still available after all priority pool applicants have been hired, they may be
filled by remaining Category 1 and 3 applicants.
Graduate students who have an authorized leave of absence can request that their position in the
priority pool be deferred for up to one year. If you are away for a year to complete field work, or
for medical reasons, you may request that your Category 2 status be maintained for an additional
year.


Visit the AGSEM website, or speak to someone at the AGSEM office for more details.


3. Accepting the Offer of a Position
If you are offered a TAship, you should receive written notice within 35 working days of the
application deadline. This should include two copies of a letter of offer and a membership form.
The letter should outline the course title, number of hours, and salary for the positions; however,
you may not receive your course assignment until later (this is most common in the fall term). To
accept the position, you have five days to sign and return one copy of the letter of offer with your
completed membership form. If your offered TAship is withdrawn after you have signed and
returned the letter of offer, you are entitled to another available position of at least equivalent
remuneration. If no other position is available, you are still en titled to some compensation: 2/15
of the TAship’s value if the withdrawal was due to insufficient enrollment; or 2/5 of the TAship’s
value otherwise.


NOW THAT YOU'VE GOT THE JOB


1. Workload Forms
It is essential that course supervisors and TAs agree on the type (including time spent attending
lectures) and amount of work to be done. For example, there should be a consensus that marking
15 five-page essays will take five hours, not 15 minutes. Near the start of the appointment, TAs
and course supervisors must assign and discuss the duties, responsibilities and anticipated work
schedule. This must be confirmed in writing on a Workload Form. If a Workload Form is not
provided, one can be downloaded from our website. The workload form must be reasonable, and
its total anticipated hours of work cannot exceed the total hours specified in the letter of offer
unless both parties agree and full remuneration is given at the stipulated rates.


2. Timesheet and Overtime
A timesheet is available for download on the AGSEM website to help you to keep track of the
hours you have worked. If it appears that the work is going to take more time than allocated, you
should discuss the matter with your course supervisor as soon as possible. Usually an amicable
solution can be found (e.g. by increasing the number of hours of the appointment or by workload
redistribution). If you do not notify the supervisor, you may not be eligible for reimbursement for
any extra hours you have worked. If an amicable solution cannot be found, contact AGSEM so
that we can help you decide what to do next.


3. Performance Evaluations
It is always useful to get some feedback about your performance as a TA. Once per term, the
course supervisor may conduct a formal, written performance evaluation. Within thirty days of the
evaluation, the written evaluation must be discussed with you. You must then sign the written
evaluation to confirm that this discussion took place, although you are also allowed to add any
written comments that you feel are relevant to the evaluation before doing so. Criteria for the
formal performance evaluations must be submitted to you, in writing, at the beginning of the term.
An informal performance evaluation may take place whenever the course supervisor feels it
necessary to bring comments or concerns to the attention of a TA. Formal written evaluations will
be included in the employee file while informal ones will not.


IF YOU HAVE PROBLEMS


Problems can sometimes arise: perhaps a job was given to someone with less priority or
experience than you; perhaps you are working more hours than you agreed to; perhaps your
working conditions are unhealthy or unsafe. If you have a problem, bring the issue to the
attention of the appropriate supervisor as soon as possible. It also helps to document any
pertinent incidents or information. If you need help or advice, please contact AGSEM. The first
step in resolving any problem is the informal problem-solving, or complaint stage.
This involves an informal discussion between you and the appropriate supervisor. If you wish, a
representative from AGSEM may be present or go in your place. Most problems are simply the
result of a misunderstanding or poor communication and can be resolved informally. If after
taking this step the problem is not resolved to your satisfaction, you can arrange a meeting with
an AGSEM Grievance Officer. They can help you decide what the best options are for you and
your situation. They can also go with you when you meet with your supervisor. If a formal
grievance is required, it is their job to work with you and to file any grievance on your behalf.
Grievances must be filed in a timely manner. Therefore, you should contact the union as soon as
you become aware of the problem. Although AGSEM encourages you to fight for your rights, it is
not the policy of the union to file a grievance without your consent.


ADMINISTRATION OF AGSEM


The Executive Committee oversees the daily operation of the union with the help of our Office
Manager, a paid employee of the union. Members of the Executive Committee are elected
annually at the spring General Assembly. All members are encouraged to attend and have
voting privileges at the General Assembly. All AGSEM members are also welcome to attend
quarterly Union Council meetings, but only departmental delegates are eligible to vote.
The Executive Committee (EC)
   President: Salim Ali (Mechanical Engineering)
   Vice-President External: Natalie Kouri-Towe (Art History & Communication Studies)
   Vice-President Internal / Grievance Officer: Riel Dupuis-Rossi (Integrated Studies in
    Education)
   Information Research Officer:
   Treasurer/Secretary: Kirsten Rempel (Earth and Planeetary Sciences)

Office Manager: Erin Vollick

Departmental Delegates
Delegates are elected by the members in their department to represent their interests at Union
Council meetings as well as to serve as the liaison between members, administrators, and the
EC. If you do not know who your delegate is, please check the AGSEM web page, or contact
AGSEM. If it turns out that your department doesn’t have a delegate, consider becoming one!


          This year’s Special General Assembly is being held
                  Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
                   18:00 - Thomson House Ballroom

How to Contact AGSEM
Phone: 514-398-2582
Email: agsem@web.net

Or drop by our office:
3479 Peel St., 3rd Floor
Office Hours: Monday-Thursday, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Most forms mentioned in this pamphlet can be found on our web page: http://www.agsem.ca/

                                                           th
Remember! Your Collective Agreement expired on June 30 , 2007.
Stay tuned for information on bargaining for AGSEM’s new Collective Agreement.



Updated September 14th, 2007.

				
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