Professional development day puts TAs in spotlight

In her more than 10 years as a Brock teaching assistant, Christina Quintiliani has come to understand she learns just as much from her students as they do from her.

The doctoral student in Educational Studies describes being a TA as a big part of a lifelong learning process that has enriched her academic experience both personally and professionally.

“One of the most rewarding aspects of being a TA is the reciprocal nature of the learning that takes place in the classroom,” she said. “Not only do you receive the opportunity to contribute to your students’ learning and observe their progress throughout the semester, but you also have the privilege of learning from and with your students.”  

Quintiliani will be a panel member at the closing plenary for Brock’s annual TA Day, held on Saturday, Sept. 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Pond Inlet.

She and other seasoned TAs will offer stories about their teaching experiences and how serving as a TA has impacted their academic journeys. The plenary will wrap up a full day of TA professional development workshops and information sessions presented by the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation (CPI).

All Brock teaching assistants are invited to participate. Visit the CPI website for more information and to register by Tuesday, Sept. 5. Those who attend are eligible to earn credits toward a TA certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

“One of the unique aspects of TA Day is that it seeks to educate both new and experienced TAs equally,” says Quintiliani, who received a Senior TA Award in 2013. “No matter how long someone has been instructing in a seminar environment, there are always new skills to be learned and ideas and teaching strategies to explore.”

A facilitator at past TA Day events, Quintiliani says the workshops provide insights and tips on an array of teaching topics, such as planning seminar sessions and effective grading and assessment.

“The ideas and strategies presented can be applied in any department or academic field of study,” she says. “The sessions motivate you and boost your confidence around your abilities to facilitate learning, grade course assignments and create a positive and supportive classroom environment for students.

“Overall, the day unites and celebrates the thoughts and experiences of all TAs and their unique perspectives and viewpoints on teaching and learning,” Quintiliani says.  

Lianne Fisher, CPI’s Educational Developer, says the variety of workshops will appeal to TAs at all levels.

“We have an assortment of workshops for those who are new to being a TA,” she said, referencing sessions titled What to Do the First Day of Class, Marking Madness, Icebreakers and Energizers, and Getting to Know SAKAI.

Experienced TAs also have a variety of sessions to choose from, such as Managing Multiple Relationships as a Teaching Assistant, Maximizing Digital Accessibility, and Design for Learning.

There’s something for everyone,” Fisher said.

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