This year’s Teaching Assistant Orientation, on August 22, 2017, was a full house with over 225 new and returning graduate assistants and presenters. Faculty and staff from across the university presented on supporting students, teaching and teaching with technology, and managing teaching-related tasks. Although this is a general orientation, and many departments have their own specialized orientation for teaching assistants, over 35 different departments were represented at this large event. Graduate teaching assistants from across campus gathered to learn from the presenters, but also to learn from each other. This year, the majority of the participants were pursuing a master’s degree, however approximately 25% were pursuing a doctorate degree.
Each year new graduate teaching assistants are encouraged to attend the orientation by their departments. This year almost 30 GTAs returned to the orientation for a second time, with a broad range of experience levels. Some had only taught one or two semesters, while some had taught over 10. There were a lot of engaging conversations happening around the room.
Initial feedback from the participant survey suggests graduate teaching assistants wanted more! “I wish could attend more than one choice from Breakout Sessions A & B” said one participant and “Each topic should have its own specific program” said another. The good news is the orientation is just the start. Graduate teaching assistants can attend many of the monthly events offered by the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. In the 2016-2017 academic year over 620 Graduate Teaching Assistant attended the center’s programs. To find out more about TA workshops, look for our monthly calendar of programs. All TAs receive the schedule via their NIU student email.