Reflections on teaching


Things we wish we knew when we first started TAing

–       Background of students academic knowledge) – pre assessment
–       It’s going to be OK. Don’t be nervous!
–       Avoid being too available – set boundaries
–       Have a schedule
–       Knowing goals/learning objectives for course
–       Know the content of course
–       Understanding roles of yourself, students, faculty

For more reflection pieces go to the Past Workshop Notes page here.

The TA Experience

Our TAs had all kinds of experiences TAing last term! How’s it going this term?

10 Survival Tips for the Marking Period

Here are some tips our TAs came up with at our last workshop:

–       Provide feedback for improvement
–       Be consistent
–       Talk to other TAs and faculty
–       Use/demand rubric (flexible but specific)
–       Use the 24 hour rule
–       Schedule time for marking
–       Give yourself rewards for finishing
–       Be accessible to students
–       Don’t make feedback contain personal comments
–       Make expectations clear for students

For more on marking strategies, go to the Past Workshop Notes page here.

Characteristics of a good TA!

At the TA Orientation yesterday, our TAs brainstormed the characteristics of a good TA. Check them out in this Wordle creation. Create your own Wordle at

What do you think are characteristics of a good TA?

Then they drew cartoons which illustrated these good characteristics! We think our TAs are super talented! Check out their drawings:

New Workshops for the 2013-2014 year!

Due to demand from our TAs, we are so excited to introduce the following two new workshops this academic year! Hope to see you there!

Marking: Survival skills
This session will explore the various ways in which undergraduate students are typically evaluated: written assignments, reports, exams, as well as oral reports and posters. TAs will have the opportunity to practice the use of marking keys and rubrics.  In discussion with senior TAs and instructors the TAs will identify strategies for effective grading and means of providing undergraduate students with constructive feedback.

Expand your teaching skills: try something new 
TAs will make observations of an experienced instructor prior to the workshop. At this session, TAs will present a five-minute lesson to their peers on a biological concept and receive constructive feedback about their teaching.

Best Practices in Teaching

At our recent workshop in April, our TAs came up with what they envisioned as their top Best Practices in teaching. And some of them agreed with what’s in literature!

  • Showing you care      
  • Enthusiasm/humour (if natural)
  • Creating an approachable learning environment so that students talk to each other and the TA (encourage group work)
  • Creating inclusive space (addressing learning styles and diversity)
  • Preparation before class (know what students are learning in lecture)
  • Reflection about teaching
  • Clear expectations (transparent and flexible)
  • Feedback to students (consistency is important)
  • Helping with process of learning (modeling, asking questions)
  • Being aware of/using resources to aid students and yourself
  • Time management, both yours and class (meeting with supervisor to discuss)
  • Pre and post assessments of students
  • Providing context for learning (life examples/your research)
  • Making down time productive

What are some of your Best Practices in teaching?

How do you feel now?

At the end of term last December, this is how our TAs were feeling. How do you feel now with a couple weeks into the new term?

Don’t forget to check out our Resources tab for information!


BioTAP Participants draw the Best TA!

At the last TA Orientation, BioTAP participants drew their version of the BEST TA! Check it out:

Living Lab Workshop


Free lunch + Interactive Theatre!

As a TA have you come across challenging situations that you were not sure how to handle? Have you had heated moments with students that you wish you
could re-play? Are you looking to get outside of your research and
participate in something that will express your creative juices?! Join us
for a Living Lab interactive theatre event held on August 15th from 1-3pm at
the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology inside the IK Barber Centre
(1961 East Mall). Please RSVP by August 7th using this link.

What is Living Lab?

Living Lab is run by the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT)
at UBC to address those challenges and to engage the UBC teaching and
learning community in conversations about how to make our classroom
experiences more inclusive, respectful, and meaningful. Living Lab performs
short interactive theatre sketches about heated classroom moments in diverse
classroom. The sketches are developed and performed by Living Lab Troupe
consisting of diverse UBC students. The forum theatre format, adopted from
the Theatre of the Oppressed by Brazilian Director Augusto Boal, is one of
the unique aspects of Living Lab. A typical Living Lab performance goes like
this: Following a short introduction and the first performance of a sketch,
the same sketch is performed again to allow the audience to interrupt and
intervene a troubling moment and act out new strategies. The session is
closed with discussion and debriefing.

Who should go to the Living Lab Event on August 15th?
All Laboratory TAs!! The sketch that will be performed on Aug. 15th is set
in a first-year Chemistry Laboratory. Lunch will be provided by Calhouns