2014 Teaching Assistant Orientation – A Great Day of Learning

Over 200 graduate teaching assistants and presenters gathered in the Duke Ellington Ballroom on the morning of August 19, 2014 for a full day of learning and preparing for their role as teaching assistants. The annual Teaching Assistant Orientation provides an opportunity for new and returning teaching assistants to learn more about teaching and supporting students while networking with their fellow TAs. In the welcome, Dr. Bradley Bond, Associate Vice President for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate School, summed up the value of graduate teaching assistants by saying, “All of your contributions are important to NIU’s teaching mission and can have a profound impact on our students.”

Matt Streb speaking
Dr. Matthew Streb, Associate Profesor and Chair of the Department of Political Science, providing the keynote for the 2014 Teaching Assistant Orientation

The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center coordinated with not only the Graduate School to facilitate this event, but many other departments and support units to provide a valuable experience for new graduate teaching assistants. The annual event is always well attended and attendees consistently agree or strongly agree that this event will potentially benefit their students. If you weren’t able to attend, you can access any of the handouts and resources here.

three experienced teaching assistants on a panel
Teaching Across the Disciplines – Experienced TA panelists share valuable lessons learned

One of the highlights of the orientation each year is the Teaching Across the Disciplines panel of experienced teaching assistants. This year was no exception, and the five members of the panel shared helpful tips and strategies for being a teaching assistant. On the evaluation, one participant commented, “I really enjoyed the orientation, especially the panel discussion with current TAs. I was not required to come to the orientation by my department, but I am glad I did!”

Dr. David Changnon presenting
Providing Teaching-Related Support breakout session, presented by Dr. David Changnon, Department of Geography

The Teaching Assistant Orientation is offered, each year, to new teaching assistants to begin to develop their skills as TAs, along with introducing them to university resources that will support their work. The general session was followed by 5 breakout sessions in which participants were able to select which to attend. The breakout sessions included Providing Teaching-Related Support, by Dr. David Changnon, Using Grading Strategies to Promote Student Learning, by Dr. Stephen Wallace, Presenting / Communicating Effectively, by Dr. Joseph Scudder, and Teaching Strategies for Engaging Student, by Dr. Jenny Parker. Finally, for experienced TAs who attended the orientation, Dr. Janet Giesen offered Finding Your Teaching Style.


Thank you to all of our presenters and collaborators for their commitment to providing inspiration and direction to the graduate teaching assistants.

Matthew Streb (Department of Political Science) Sarah Klaper (Office of Ombudsperson)
Tim Paquette (Counseling and Student Development Center) Leanne VandeCreek and Larissa Garcia (University Libraries)
Jennifer Pippen (Disability Resource Center) Jason Rhode (Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center)
Brian Glick (Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct) Tyler Mitchell (Department of Mathematical Sciences)
AnDrea James (School of Music) Steven Battaglia (Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences)
Rayanne Nguyen (School of Family, Consumer, and Nutrition Sciences) Jeff Paris (Department of Kinesiology & Physical Education)
David Changnon (Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences) Stephen Wallace (Assessment Services)
Joseph Scudder (Department of Communication) Jenny Parker (Educator Licensure and Preparation)
Janet Giesen (Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center)


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