Presentation for teaching assistants focused on strategies for developing syllabus and having good start to school year

University of Florida orientation for teaching assistants

New teaching assistants listen to a panel of faculty members and administrators talk about “Classroom Challenges.” Photo by Julie Dodd

by Julie Dodd

More than 400 teach assistants attended a second day of orientation as they get ready to take on teaching duties when classes start at the University of Florida next week. The orientation is sponsored by the Graduate School and the Teaching Center.

I was one of the invited speakers. My topic was “A Positive Start to Your Teaching: Your Syllabus and the First Week of Classes.” [You can download a PDF handout of the slides I used for my presentation — dodd_2013_ta-orientation]

UF Teaching Assistant HandbookI divided my presentation into several parts:

* Advice about what they should be doing now to get ready for the start of class. That discussion included meeting with their supervisor, getting copies of course materials, and mapping out their own schedule for the semester (including office hours).

* A discussion of how a well-designed syllabus can assist teachers and students. Most of these new teaching assistants won’t be developing the syllabi they will be using this fall, but they need to know what the course policies and procedures are. Thinking more long-term, those who are interested in going into a career of teaching in higher education need to know how to create a syllabus.

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