TA Days

Aspects of your work as teaching assistants may vary departmentally across the institute. However, there are also roles, responsibilities, and concerns that are common across MIT teaching assistants. To support you in developing these foundations of TAing, we offer a series of workshops called TA Days.

The Summer 2023 TA Days workshops will be held Monday, August 28 – Thursday, August 31, and include online and in-person sessions. Registration opens Monday, August 14, via Canvas. The link will be available once registration starts. See the schedule with links to workshop descriptions below.

Workshop Schedule

Sessions listed in BOLD denote workshops will be in-person only; all others will be held online.

Monday, August 2810:00 am – 12:00 pmLeading a Recitation: Using Examples Effectively (in person, 2-190)
Monday, August 2812:30 pm – 1:30 pmTAs and the Responsible Employee Obligation (online)
Monday, August 282:00 pm – 4:00 pmLeading a Recitation: Get Students Talking (in person, 2-190)
Tuesday, August 2910:00 am – 12:00 pmSupporting Student Wellbeing (SSWB) (in person, 2-190)
Tuesday, August 292:00 pm – 4:00 pmFacilitating Office Hours (online)
Wednesday, August 3010:00 am – 12:00 pmLeading a Recitation: Facilitating Meaningful Practice and Group Work (in person, 2-190)
Wednesday, August 3012:30 pm – 1:30 pmExperienced TA Panels (online)
Wednesday, August 302:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Giving Feedback on Reports, Proposals, and Essays (Online)
Thursday, August 3111:00 am – 1:00 pmInclusive Teaching as a TA (in person, 2-190)
Thursday, August 312:00 pm – 4:00 pm Presenting a Class Session (in person, 2-190)

Workshop Descriptions

Getting Students Talking

Leading a Recitation Series, part 1

Conducting a discussion and encouraging student participation in recitations presents unique challenges as TAs balance their own preparation with interpersonal skills while being open to improvisation and still fulfilling learning goals. This module will provide a generalized outline for encouraging student participation and leading an active class discussion. You will learn about the most common barriers to participation and specific strategies to overcome these barriers and get students engaged and active. 

Inclusive Teaching as a TA

Inclusive teaching involves deliberately creating an equitable learning environment that supports all students’ learning and sense of belonging in the classroom community. In this introductory workshop, you will consider how you can support student learning by gaining awareness of the student experience and learn about specific inclusive teaching techniques that can be applied to your work as a teaching assistant. You will explore and apply key dispositions and practices that create welcoming and equitable learning communities through reflection, discussion, and case study work.

Supporting Student Wellbeing as a TA

Learning is most effective when students feel intellectually engaged and emotionally and personally supported. In this module, you will learn how to recognize the signs of student distress and ways to support your students and peers as TAs. The session is facilitated by Jimmy Doan and Ray Feller from Student Support and Wellbeing, part of the Division of Student Life. Their office provides advice and advocacy for students and acts as a hub of resources, referrals, and information across the MIT community. Student Support and Wellbeing staff are integrated with other resources, including Disability and Access Services, to provide comprehensive academic and personal support to undergraduates.

Presenting a Class Session

The thought of leading a class session can be intimidating. This module will introduce you to strategies for presenting effectively to your class, whether through pre-recorded videos, Zoom lectures and discussions, or writing on a tablet. This module is facilitated by MIT SoE Communication Lab director Diana Chien and Comm Lab Fellow Jingfan Yang. The Comm Lab is a program that provides peer-to-peer support for building communication skills.

Using Examples Effectively

Leading a Recitation Series, part 2

This module will provide you with a basic outline for a lecture or recitation session, examples of techniques you can use to actively engage students, and the research-based rationale for including those elements. This module is geared towards leaders of recitation sections that focus on problem-solving, but all are welcome.

Experienced TA Panels

Experienced TAs from different courses and schools will share the most important things they learned about being effective TAs and will answer questions from the audience about how to get started as a new TA. This module is presented as three parallel sessions, one for the School of Engineering, one for the School of Science, and one for SHASS, SA+P, and Sloan.

Facilitating Office Hours

In this module, you will learn how to better assess where students are in their thinking, use questioning techniques to encourage students to explain their thinking and help students enhance their learning by connecting solution steps to course concepts. This module will also present research on effective tutoring.

Facilitating Meaningful Practice and Group Work

Leading a Recitation Series, part 3

In this module you will learn best practices for helping students practice skills developed in lecture, recitations, or homework and facilitate group work effectively. You will review several video examples of group work in recitation and identify strategies to make these activities successful.

TAs and the Responsible Employee Obligation

This module helps you understand the Institute Discrimination & Harassment Response Office (IDHR, formerly known as T9BR), your obligations as a Responsible Employee, and what to do if you are to become aware of any situations related to gender- or sex-based discrimination (including sexual misconduct which is sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating/domestic violence, and stalking). This module will introduce you to IDHR, talk about MIT policies, go over the various reporting options, cover important confidential resources, and deep-dive into what it means to be a Responsible Employee.

Note: If your department requires completion of this module, only the asynchronous portions of this workshop on Canvas are required. In the synchronous session, staff from IDHR will answer common questions, discuss scenarios, and help you better understand your role as a Responsible Employee.

Giving Feedback on Reports, Proposals, and Essays

Feedback on written assignments can be a challenging and often time-consuming activity as a TA. In this module, you will learn how to formulate helpful feedback for your students while balancing your feedback between style and content. You will also discuss ways to grade writing more efficiently and effectively.

Using Canvas as a TA

Canvas is the new Learning Management System (LMS) available to the entire MIT community adopted Fall 2020. This asynchronous module introduces you to the basic and advanced features of Canvas with examples of how it might be used.