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TA Resources

Winter quarter TA pedagogy workshops

TA Workshop Registration image

We have workshops for TAs every week! Browse and register for interactive TA workshops to help you become a more effective TA. Check the TA Development Program Nectir channel for updates, resources, and announcements.

  • Pillars of TAship Certificate workshops (now qualifies for CalFresh benefits!)
  • Educational Technologies
  • CCUT preparation
  • International TA Concerns
  • Teaching Statements

TA Video Consultations

The Classroom Video and Consultation Service is a non-evaluative, confidential opportunity to discuss your actual classroom teaching practices with a peer instructional consultant. TAs and instructors report many changes in their classrooms and in themselves after the video consultations, including: increased confidence, greater sensitivity to students’ instructional needs, use of effective questioning techniques, and better utilization of class time. The service is free of charge for faculty, teaching assistants and teaching associates and is required for CCUT candidates.

See more details and scheduling forms at the OIC TA Development Program website.

The service includes a 50 minute video recording of your on-campus class (or upload Zoom recording of an online class) and a 1 hour video review session with a consultant, during which you will:

  • reflect on teaching methods you use effectively;
  • discuss aspects of your teaching that you want to improve; 
  • explore alternative teaching strategies.

TA Handbook for Resilient Teaching

Table of contents

  1. Administrative Tasks
    1.1. Workload
    1.2. Working with the Teaching Team
    1.3. How to set up Office Hours
    1.4. Recording Zoom Sections or Office Hours (FERPA)
    1.5 Taking Attendance on Zoom
  2. Designing Engaging Sections
    2.1. Predictable Routine
    2.2. Creating Engaging Sections
    2.4. Creating Engaging Asynchronous Section Activities
    2.4.1. Asynchronous Assignments
  3. Creating Inclusive Classes
    3.1. Create Community
    3.2. Explicitly Address Student Access
    3.3. Accessibility Recommendations
    3.4. Supporting Students with Disabilities
  4. Where to Get Help
    4.1. Where TAs can get help
    4.2. Instructional Technology
    4.2.1. Key technologies
  5. Student Support Websites
    5.1. For Grads
    5.2. For Grads and Undergrads

1. Administrative Tasks

1.1. Workload

TAs workload expectation cannot exceed the average hourly limits provided in the ASE UAW contract. TAs should keep track of their hours. If you find yourself working more than allowed under the contract, communicate with the course instructor to adjust your duties. Your department Graduate Advisor and Chair are also there to help make sure TA workload remains within contractual parameters. 

1.2. Working with the Teaching Team

Teaching teams (Instructors, TAs, Readers) should communicate on a regular basis, through a combination of in-person and Zoom meetings, email communication, texts, and/or instant messaging (see Nectir). In particular, the teaching team should have open discussions about the purposes of section and how students will be assessed (grading procedures, rubrics, academic integrity, etc.).

Meeting Tips:

  • Use UCSB’s Google Calendar to schedule; consider meeting at the same time and location each week (in-person and/or virtually).
  • Have a clear agenda and keep an eye on time. Consider keeping meeting notes for each meeting on a single GoogleDoc as a running agenda.
  • Start with something personal (a quick check-in) to make the meetings feel more comfortable.

1.3. How to set up Office Hours

Holding office hours can take different forms (in-person or virtual) or lengths (30 mins – 2 hours) based on what you and your students may need. Consider polling your students with choices for office hours to see when/where most can attend and/or allow students to schedule meetings with you at specified times using the Shoreline meeting scheduler

Using a combination of in-person and virtual options could be a great way to stay connected with the students’ needs, which may change as the quarter and the class material progresses. To protect your own time, consider setting expectations in your section syllabus such as, “I will make every effort to respond to emails/Q&A discussion posts/Nectir within 24 hours, M-F.” 

  • In-person: You can hold office hours anywhere on campus (unless otherwise notified by your instructor, such as a specified lab or student space). Consider inviting students to meet with you in a common public space near your classroom just before or after class instead of hiking over to your office. The informality of the location can change the interactions. 
  • Video Conferencing: You can hold office hours via Zoom to allow for real time conversation and questions, while also being able to share screens or use whiteboards or document cameras for more in-depth explanations. 
  • Discussion forums: For a no-video option, you can take time each week to actively respond to students on a discussion board, such as Nectir or GauchoSpace. This way, responses will be available to everyone in the class even if they didn’t have the chance to join at the specified time.

1.4. Recording Zoom Sections or Office Hours (FERPA)

If you plan to record your interactive Zoom sections, be aware that per California law and FERPA protection, all parties (i.e., all students) must provide consent. Tell students in advance when you plan to record some or all of your Zoom sessions. Give students the option to mute their microphone and turn off their video. Non-participation in recording may not be held against any participant or result in punitive consequences. You can copy and paste the text below into your syllabus, or add it as a Label in the course GauchoSpace site with the scheduled Zoom link. Also note that students are not allowed to record Zoom sessions.

“This live Zoom session will be recorded for students who may not be able to attend at this time. By default, your microphone and camera will be muted when you join the session. If you do not want to be included in the recording, simply keep your camera and microphone off. You may ask questions in the chat window. NOTE: Student participants are prohibited from recording of any kind. Only the instructor is permitted to record.”

1.5 Taking Attendance on Zoom

Instead of taking attendance, we recommend that synchronous Zoom sessions be used to help students succeed on graded assessments; thereby providing an “incentive” to join, without penalty for non-participation. Instructors and TAs should be aware that students may have unequal access to Zoom sessions. For example, students may be in a different time-zone, have limited Internet connectivity, have a computer without a webcam, and/or lack of access to private study spaces. If attendance must be taken, we recommend getting a report of attendees from the Zoom settings or using the GS Attendance Activity.


2. Designing Engaging sections

Pacing Your Lessons

2.1. Predictable Routine

Set students’ expectations for both communal and autonomous learning by setting up a clear and predictable pattern for engaging with content, each other, and you. Work with the course instructor to:

  • Establish clear communication channels for questions outside of class time (e.g. Nectir, Discussion Forums, email, etc.) and response times (e.g. “I will respond within 24 hours”).
  • Use a lesson plan template to make sure you don’t forget announcements and connections between topics, lecture and section.
  • Share the “why” of your lesson plans: why is this important, why this activity, how is it connected to the lecture/homework/exams/real life.
  • Put all the content and instructions that students might need on GauchoSpace, and label it clearly so students can navigate through it easily (e.g., use the same “template” for each class). 
  • Each week, have assignments due on the same day(s), at the same time(s). 

2.2. Creating Engaging Sections

Key Habits of Good Discussion Leaders
  • Review “Student-centered Section Activities” and “Active Learning Strategies” which are full of powerful and easy-to-implement ideas that engage students and help you measure their learning at the same time.
  • Plan lessons in short (~10-15 min) increments to keep students engaged. Share an agenda for each session with students and be mindful of time.
  • Write 1-3 Learning Outcomes, which will highlight what students will DO during the session.
  • Get students interacting early and often in each session. Tips:
    • Start each class with an ice-breaker, poll, story or compelling question with many possible answers.
    • Ask students to actively use the class backchannel (i.e. Nectir) to ask and answer questions.
  • Send a weekly message expressing care for students well-being and appreciation for their contributions. Check-in on students who seem disengaged with a light-touch email. For example:
    • I noticed that you were not able to complete all of the work for last week’s topics, and wanted to check in and encourage you to [reach out to me, request a meeting, come to office hours] if the content is confusing, or to discuss a short extension. 
  • Make a short get-to-know-you survey using the GauchoSpace Feedback tool or Google Forms.
  • Invite student feedback and suggestions, so that you can adapt for a better experience.
Encourage Students to Participate

2.4 Creating Engaging Asynchronous Section Activities

2.4.1 Asynchronous Assignments

A teaching team may wish for students who cannot attend in-person class to complete some asynchronous activities that will keep them on track. It is important that all course materials are available in GauchoSpace with clear instructions for completing the work. 

Tips:

  • Instead of pre-recording a video, consider annotating a slideshow presentation with notes and then sharing the file on GauchoSpace or Google Drive.
  • Set up a discussion forum for students in GauchoSpace or Nectir. Use structured questions with many possible responses, and let students know what your expectations are for their responses (word/media length, type of thinking to demonstrate, mutual respect, grading guidelines).
  • Put any students who couldn’t attend class together into an asynchronous activity to discuss or practice the week’s material using the same questions, case, or problem sets you used in synchronous section.
  • Set up a collaborative note taking or small group work system in a Google Drive to share notes with those who couldn’t attend.
  • Set up a peer review of student work (in GauchoSpace forums, Nectir or Eli Review), such as homework problem-sets, explanations of complex content, or drafts of writing assignments, with clear and specific instructions for what to consider when reviewing each other’s work.

3. Creating Inclusive Classes

3.1 Create Community

Fostering community in your class is key to creating an effective learning environment because students who do not feel a sense of belonging are more likely to be disengaged or drop the course. Create channels for communication that encourage meaningful out of class interactions such as study groups, homework/reading questions, group projects, peer review, sharing creative content, and even memes (e.g. discussion forum in GS, a class Nectir channel).

Tips for Building Community (see more details here)

  • Get to know your students. Learn their names and help them get to know each other, so that they are comfortable asking questions and contributing to class discussions. 
  • Use collaborative activities to have students discuss and practice with meaningful problems, cases, creations, and solutions.
  • Tell students stories about your challenges with the material and how you overcame them. 
  • Be Human: use the minutes just before/after class for simple icebreakers, to share stories and discuss new ideas/content. 
  • Come as early to class as possible, and welcome students as they arrive. 

3.2 Explicitly Address Student Access

Forefronting access to learning materials, interactions, and the teaching team is important in mitigating any barriers to learning that your students may experience. These barriers include physical and health disabilities, financial problems, mental health issues, technology access, and temporary setbacks due to normal life issues. Some tips are:

  • Ask students in a survey about any learning needs they may have, and how they prefer to learn and study (e.g. in study groups, backchannel chats, verbal discussion).
  • Tell students about the technological and logistical expectations for studying and engagement in the class, including any software or apps and how to get them.  Some UCSB resources for students with technology needs are here.
  • Put all learning materials and communication tools in GauchoSpace.
  • Provide flexible deadlines for assignments (where possible).
  • Provide links to UCSB Wellbeing services and Student Services on your syllabus and point it out on the GauchoSpace site.

3.3 Accessibility Recommendations

Plan ahead for accessibility by reviewing these resources and recommendations.

3.4 Supporting Students with Disabilities

In a remote learning environment, students with disabilities may require additional or different accommodations than their original Accommodations Letters indicate. For any questions about how to ensure accessibility for specific students’ accommodations, the course instructor should contact the Disabled Students Program (DSP). If accommodations relate to tasks that students will be asked to do for section, the TA can reach out to the DSP directly as well. 


4. Where to Get Help

4.1 Where TAs can get help

Learning how to teach:

4.2 Instructional Technology Help

4.2.1 Key technologies

Contact the Instructional Development Helpdesk if you need a webcam, microphone, document camera, or other equipment to teach from a remote location. Search the online tutorials and help articles below for UCSB-supported technologies. 


5. Student Support Websites

5.1 For Grads

Graduate Division

Graduate Student Association

5.2 For Grads and Undergrads

Get ready to teach in the classrooms

All of the general assignment classrooms are equipped with a lectern PC and projector, and instructions on how to use them are mounted on the lectern.

  • Get a login and lectern key from Media Equipment in 1160 Kerr Hall, or from your department if it’s a department-controlled space (like a lab).
  • If you need a microphone, contact Media Equipment to check one out for the quarter.
  • Go visit your classroom asap to see how it is set up, where the light switches are, and how to use the lectern and projector. If needed, schedule a meet and greet with someone from Media Equipment.

TA Orientation: Required for all new TAs/Readers

TAs and Readers with secured positions for the 2021-22 school are required to complete TA Orientation. TA Orientation was held September 13 – 21, 2021. If you missed all or part of orientation, you can do the makeup work to receive credit. Join the TA Orientation GauchoSpace site for details and to track your completion.

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