Monday, May 12, 2008

Lead TA Training, Day One

This week is brought to you by the nine-to-five (well, 8:30 to 4:30) adventure that is Lead Graduate TA training. The good news is that I'm kind of getting paid (the job pays 6% time over nine months, a total of 120 hours, of which this is 30, but I don't get a paycheck until September) and the week counts as no less than 10 credits for workshops completed towards my teaching certificate. The bad news: aforementioned 8:30, "continental breakfast" of juice and bagels, many hours of latest pedagogical paradigm. Tomorrow, I believe, I get to sit through an hour and a half on "Diversity"; somewhere in the schedule is a section devoted to "I-Statement Feedback".

The lead TA position is two-fold. First, a lot of training for me - pre-professionalism in committee work, presentations, etc., and actual teaching tips. Second, filtered training through me to the other graduate students in my department. That's the hard part of the job: convince continuing graduate students to check out the official workshops on the grounds of "unless you're going into business, you're gonna have to teach at some point", and convince the new TAs (including undergraduate recitation leaders for Intro) that they want to attend the discipline-specific skills kit workshops I think I'm planning. At the moment, I feel that I'll settle for getting them to actually read the emails I will be required to send out, rather than deleting them automatically. This may be accomplished by actuall writing emails, instead of just forwarding them with "FYI. -Me" added on top.

I have found out interesting things about the other TA training programs. There's the department that covers everything including "erase the board up and down, because if you do it left to right your butt will wiggle automatically in a distracting fashion", or the department that says "see the GTP if you want training". My department tends toward the latter. I wish I could have a few hours before the semester starts to run the toolkits workshop (when else will it be useful to discuss syllabus and assignment design), but I'm hopeful for getting ideas from training on how to work around it.

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