The Teaching Assistant Training Institute provides formal training for graduate students to assist them in preparing for their teaching assignments both here at Johns Hopkins and for their future academic careers. The program consists of a half-day orientation session for new TAs as well as workshops throughout the year for all graduate students. There is also a formal course to prepare graduate students for academic teaching. The TA Training Institute consists of a Director - Richard Shingles, a Senior Instructional Designer – Macie Hall, and Graduate Teaching Associates. The Institute works with the support of staff members in the Center for Educational Resources, the GRO, graduate liaisons and MSEL staff.
Nearly every undergraduate student at Hopkins interacts at some point with a TA who functions in an instructional capacity, and many Hopkins TAs are the full-time faculty of the future. The mission of the TA Training Institute is to enhance the instructional experience of undergraduate students and to introduce Hopkins TAs to good instructional theory and practice.
Structure of TA Training Institute
Nearly 200 graduate students attend this one-day TA Orientation. New TAs was introduced to the administrative landscape of the TA at Hopkins through a mandatory plenary session. The focus was on preparing TAs for their immediate instructional teaching assignments.
The plenary session consists of presentations on faculty perspectives of a TA, academic ethics, teaching students with disabilities and academic advising help for undergraduate students. These topics are presented by deans, faculty and staff representing KSAS, WSE, and the Sheridan Libraries.2. Introductory Topics for First-time TAs (required)
The August Orientation is followed by a series of seminars covering a variety of issues for first-time TAs – e.g., Preparing for the First Day, Supporting a Lab, Leading Effective Discussions, Identifying Resources for Struggling Students, Dealing with Academic Integrity Issues, Teaching with Library Resources, and Teaching with Technology. These sessions are led by award winning faculty and students who have become pedagogical leaders at Johns Hopkins.3. Eyes on Teaching Workshop Series for All TAs (optional)
A series of workshops called “Eyes on Teaching,” repeating topics given in the August orientation are offered during different times of the academic year. These workshops enable TAs, who would be teaching for the first time in spring semester 2014, to prepare for their teaching assignments.4. Preparation for University Teaching (credit course)
In spring 2014 the credit course, “Preparation for University Teaching,” is offered. Open to all graduate students, this course presented peer-to-peer teaching experiences and video recording for critique of teaching practices. Course and lesson preparation, presentation skills, effective facilitation of discussion, and development of self-assessment techniques were emphasized. This course will continue to be offered during the Spring semester. Course enrollment is open to students of KSAS and WSE. Graduate students ranged from first year students to students who graduated at the completion of the course.
Resources for Teaching Assistants:
Teaching Assistant Manual
The TA Training Institute has developed a manual for TAs called “Making the Difference.” The manual lists general teaching resources available at Hopkins – e.g., TA-specific services offered by the library, services offered to students with disabilities, faculty responsibilities in working with such students, etc. Printed copies of the TA Manual are distributed at the TA Orientation in September and are available from the CER throughout the year.
CER has worked with the GRO to ensure its members are informed of all changes to the TA Training program. CER has met with the GRO board to discuss items to go into a TA Training section of the Graduate Student Portal. The GRO website links to the CER website, which in turn, links to TA Training. The GRO also distributes TA training-related information through its list-serv.