Notes / News

Sept 10th

Hey, I’ve created and updated this page with content from previous years’ TAiRs (thanks to Syed Zain Raza Rizvi, and Tyson Kendon and all the previous TAiRs for your content – if I’ve missed you and you’d like attribution, let me know and I’ll gladly add your name to this list). You can find the introductory slides here.

TA in Residence Process

The TA in Residence Program was created to help TAs in the Department of Computer Science improve their teaching skills. At the time many TAs felt as though they were not getting the support they needed. The TA in Residence was created to give TAs a way to improve their skills in a supportive environment. The TA in Residence works with TAs to help them separately from the department’s and University’s formal evaluation systems.

The TA in Residence works primarily by doing classroom observations with some follow up discussion. Priority for these observations is given new TAs, but priority is also available to any TA who asks for an observation. Other TAs will be visited throughout the semester as time allows to both give those TAs a chance to improve their teaching and also for their good ideas to be shared throughout the department.

The TA in Residence Program is confidential. The TAiR’s notes and the discussions between the TAiR and the TA are kept between them. Observations do not affect any evaluations by the department and the TAiR does not report to the department which TAs were and were not visited. At the end of the semester the TAiR submits a report that explains, in aggregate, how many TAs were visited and what general issues the department should consider for TAs in the future.

Requesting an Observation

If you would like to schedule an observation with the TA in Residence, to strengthen a part of your teaching, to share interesting teaching ideas or for a general observation of your technique, e-mail me at the above address with the following information:

  • Your Contact Information (Name & E-mail)
  • Your Tutorial Information (Course, Section #, Time & Location)
  • Which Tutorial Session I Should Attend
  • What I need to know (About your tutorial & and your teaching) I will contact you as soon as I can after I receive your e-mail and contact you to set up an observation. Please see the How Observations Work entry for more information.

I Got an Email About an Observation

New TAs and TAs who requested observations will receive priority for observations. However I am also observing TAs, both new and experienced, at random. This gives everyone the chance to brush up on their skills but also allows me to pick up on good ideas and techniques I can pass on to others.

When contacting you for an observation I will ask a handful of questions. I will confirm your tutorial information (Course, Section #, Time & Location) to make sure my notes are correct. I will also ask you which tutorial session makes the most sense for me to attend, so that I see a representative tutorial for you. (For example if you would like to discuss your speaking style, I shouldn’t attend a tutorial that is only a work period). I will also ask if there is any information I need about your tutorial or your teaching and if there are any things I should focus on in particular during the observation.

Please respond to my e-mail as promptly as you can so that I can organize observations.

How Observations Work

Before Observations

We will talk before the observation to ensure that this is tutorial that I should be observing and if there is anything I should know or focus on.

During the Observation

I will arrive a little before your tutorial is scheduled to begin. If it’s convenient and not distracting I will introduce myself before your tutorial starts.

While the tutorial goes on You should:

  • Should let your students know that I’m there and that I’m a part of improving the teaching throughout the department.
  • Should continue with your tutorial as normal, ignoring me. I:

  • Will sit quietly in the back of your tutorial.
  • Will fill out an observation form to keep track of how the tutorial goes.

After the Observation

I will talk with you immediately after the end of your tutorial to quickly discuss the tutorial while it’s still fresh in both our minds. If we have time we will have a longer debriefing, 15 minutes to half an hour then. If time does not allow, then we will schedule our follow up meeting for as soon as possible afterwards.

During the debriefing:

  • We will talk about the tutorial and see how we felt. Which parts seemed strong, which parts could use improvement and which parts we can share with other TAs.
  • I will give you the observation form and we will discuss what I noted during the tutorial.
  • We will discuss what we should do in the future. What points you’d like to work on and if I should visit again. We will also look at what ideas should go into the TA in Residence program.

Other Useful Tidbits