Orientation for new teaching assistants at UF – tips for success

UF Orientation for New Teaching Assistants

Here’s the view from the back of Carlton Auditorium during a panel presentation about how to deal with challenging student situations.

by Julie Dodd

Julie Dodd speaking at UF Orientation for New Teaching Assistants

I enjoy helping new teaching assistants be prepared for a good start of their teaching at UF. Photo by Michael Hanna

There’s lots to consider when you’re a new teaching assistant.

That was the take-away for the more than 350 teaching assistants who attended the day-long orientation for new teaching assistants at the University of Florida.

That was a take-away for me, too, as a presenter — as I planned what to share with the new TAs in my talk and also as I listened to the questions the TAs asked during my session and the other orientation sessions I attended.

I talked about developing a checklist of what needs to be accomplished before school starts next week, from meeting with their teaching supervisor to reviewing their online persona/avatar to the classroom where they will be teaching and try out the technology.

I also explained what I’ve coined as the COPE Strategies that can help teachers develop a more student-oriented approach to their teaching.

Julie Dodd

An umbrella and sunglasses are items (in addition to batteries for microphones, water bottle and white board markers) I recommended that TAs carry in their backpacks and briefcases. At UF, you can walk to class needing sunglasses for the bright sun and walk out of class in a heavy afternoon thunderstorm. Photo by Michael Hanna

One of the topics I was asked to talk about was developing a syllabus. I asked the TAs how many of them would be developing the syllabus for the courses they are teaching this semester. Fewer than a dozen raised their hands.

But being aware of what UF (and most colleges) require for the syllabus is helpful for understanding the syllabus that they will be provided and teaching with. Also, for those who will go on to develop their own courses and go into a career in teaching, developing a good syllabus is a key part of effective teaching.

I also offered advice on having a good start to the semester that included selling the value of your course to your students and having lots of patience.

You can download a PDF of my presentations slides:
Julie Dodd’s slides for 2017 UF Orientation for New Teaching Assistants

My handout includes a list of readings that I suggested, including Ken Bain’s “What the Best College Teachers Do.” dodd-ta-orientation-handout-2017

Thanks to Dr. Winifred Cooke, director of the UF Teaching Center, and to Dr. Paul Duncan,  senior associate dean of the UF Graduate School, for inviting me to be a speaker at the TA orientation.

I plan to blog about several of the questions I was asked today during my presentation. So you may want to “follow” my blog to get alerts when I’ve published a new post. If you have questions you’d like me to answer, you can post them as a comment to the blog or email me — jdodd@jou.ufl.edu

Advice for new teaching assistants

by Julie Dodd

jou3109 teaching team

Rich Shumate (on far right) was my lecture assistant for Multimedia Writing. The photo is of the lab instructors for the course.

When Rich Shumate and I met for lunch to celebrate him joining the faculty at Western Kentucky University, one of our topics of conversation was teaching.

As my lecture assistant during his doctoral program, Rich and I had literally hundreds of conversations about teaching, as we planned classes, discussed individual student situations, developed assignments and exams for the 200+ students in Multimedia Writing, and worked with the lab instructors for the course.

Knowing that I was going to be speaking at the University of Florida’s Orientation for Teaching Assistants, I asked Rich what advice he would give new teaching assistants. Here’s the combination of Rich’s advice along with my comments.

Shumate: Always be prepared for class. Don’t just go in and wing it. Your teaching should be planned.

Dodd: Sometimes those who are new to teaching think about professors they had who seemed to spontaneous in their teaching and think that they can be spontaneous, too. But most of the discussions that seemed to be spur of the moment were created by the professor’s questions or objectives for that day’s class. Some really great teaching and learning can happen that isn’t planned in advance, but most good teaching – that leads to students accomplishing the goals of the course – is based on planning and preparation.

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Orientation for University of Florida Graduate Teaching Assistants, Aug. 15, 2017

by Julie Dodd

I’m looking forward to being part of the team who will be conducting the Orientation for Graduate Teaching Assistants at the University of Florida.

More than 400 new teaching assistants participate in the orientation each August, and I enjoy helping the TAs begin their teaching careers.

Some have had previous teaching experience, teaching in higher ed or K-12. Some have been guest speakers in a class. But for the majority of those attending the orientation, this is their first teaching experience.

My title of my presentation is “Your Syllabus and the First Week of Class.” I’ve just emailed my slides and handout to those assembling all the materials. The orientation will be on Aug. 15.

Tips from TAs for being successful new teachers

by Julie Dodd

ta-orientation-2016Three teaching assistants who were winners of UF’s Graduate Student Teaching Awards offered teaching advice at the UF TA Orientation.

William Hedderson – Applied Physiology & Kinesiology
Will discussed two topics that I discussed and so did Carla and Michael — promoting active learning and learning students’ names. Teaching doesn’t mean that you need to be lecturing for the full time. Plan class to get students involved and talking with each other. After spending his first semester of teaching learning very few student names, Will made a real effort to learn names, and that made a big difference in his interaction with his students.

Carla Strickland-Hughes – Psychology
Carla talked about how to organize a lecture or presentation, including providing the students an overview at the start of class to help them know their objectives for the class. Other tips included making presentation slides easy to read and helpful with large point size (at least 24 point), relevant images, and not too many words. She recommended building in student activities about every 15 minutes to keep the students engaged. Having a supplemental textbook provides you, as the instructor, additional examples to use in class.

Michael Polo – Music
Michael told the story of how his teaching assignment was the one music area he had most disliked as a student himself — live singing. But he prepared to take on the challenge of teaching a course he had dreaded and wound up being very successful with his students. The take-away — You won’t always be assigned to classes that you enjoyed as a student, but you can become a very effective instructor … if you make the effort.

 

Positive start to your teaching — my advice at UF TA Orientation 2016

UF TA Orientation 2016

I presented a session to more than 400 graduate students who attended the New Teaching Assistant Orientation at the University of Florida. Photo by Bobbi Carpenter

by Julie Dodd

UF TA Orientation 2016

I encouraged the TAs to make the most of their time this week to prepare for the start on classes next wee. Photo by Keir Hamilton

Welcome to the new teaching assistants at the University of Florida. (And welcome to all of you who are new to teaching this semester.)

I appreciated the UF Graduate School and UF Teaching Center inviting me to be on the program for the UF TA Orientation — speaking on “A Positive Start to Your Teaching: Your Syllabus and the First Week of Classes.”

Thanks to the more than 400 teaching assistants in my session for their attention, their involvement, and their questions.

I hope the new TAs will take advantage of the optional sessions being offered:

  • “Teaching for Teaching in UF Classrooms” – Aug. 18, 10 a.m. to noon, Turlington L005
  • “International TAs in UF Classrooms” – Aug. 18, 2 to 4 p.m., Turlington L005
  • “e-Learning@UF: Getting Started, Intermediate & Advanced” – Aug. 19, HUB 221

You can follow me on Twitter – @profdodd

UF Orientation helps new teaching assistants have positive start to semester

UF TA Orientation 2015

More than 350 teaching assistants attend the annual orientation for teaching assistants at the University of Florida. I took this photo from the back of Carleton Auditorium before my session in 2015.

by Julie Dodd

New teaching assistants at the University of Florida will attend an Orientation for Graduate Teaching Assistants on Tuesday, Aug. 18, to help them be ready for the start of Fall Semester on Monday, Aug. 22.

I’ll be one of the speakers on the day-long program, which will be held in Carleton Auditorium.

My session is “Your Syllabus and the First Week of Class.” That broad topic lets me talk about many important aspects of a successful start of the semester — from incorporating active learning activities in class to being sure to have an umbrella.

I’ll post the handout and slides from the presentation.

The orientation is hosted by the UF Graduate School and the UF Teaching Center.

Advice for new teaching assistants — My presentation to TAs at the University of Florida

by Julie Dodd

Gator clockThe clock is ticking as we approach the start of the academic year at the University of Florida and at colleges and universities across the country.

Today, I made a presentation about teaching at UF’s orientation for the more than 400 new teaching assistants that will be teaching labs, classes, and discussion groups this year.

My topic was “A Positive Start to Your Teaching: Your First Week of Class and Your Syllabus.”

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