Teaching Assistant Professional Development Days

September 6 - 7, 2023

We’re pleased to invite you to the upcoming Teaching Assistant Professional Development Days (TA Days). TA Days will take place September 6 (in-person) and September 7 (online).

The purpose of the TA Day sessions is to provide teaching assistants with strategies, information, and/or understanding to support them in their teaching activities during the year. These workshops and webinars are meant to provide both new and returning TAs with the opportunity to listen, learn and ask questions about teaching. Participants in the Certificate in University Teaching and Learning (CUTL) can receive up to 5 professional development hours for attending TA Days. Note: This excludes the information session that outlines the CUTL and other programming available, which does not account towards the PD hours.

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TA Days Schedule

Day 1 - Sept 6, 2023
Dalhousie Student Union, Wayne Cross Room

9:30 – 10:30 AM 

Supporting your Teaching Development: Programs and Opportunities at Dalhousie.

Presenter: Nasim Tavassoli, Educational Developer (Student Development)  

In this information session, you will learn about different programs (e.g., Micro-teaching short course, the teaching dossier retreat, CNLT 5000 course, CUTL certificate program, etc.) available at CLT to help you develop and improve your teaching skills.  

10:30 – 10:45 AM Break
10:45 – 11:45 PM

How to Effectively Facilitate Class Discussions and Seminars

Presenter: Elizabeth Gillis, Educational Developer (Curriculum)

Many courses use discussion as an effective method of learning and teaching. TA-led discussions provide opportunities to determine whether students understand important concepts, to direct students in their learning, and to build relationships in a class. However, student discussions don't always happen naturally or easily. A meaningful discussion requires more than a few ideas, and often rely on good preparation and facilitation.  
By attending this session, attendees should be able to: prepare for student discussions that will encourage effective learning and apply a variety of facilitation techniques to enhance discussion.

12:00 – 1:00 PM  Pizza Lunch, Room 302
Meet Dalhousie Services Supporting TAs
1:00 – 2:30 PM 

The Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (EDIA) iceberg: What lies beneath the surface?

Presenters: Tereigh Ewert, Shazia Nawaz Awan, and Rachelle McKay

In this interactive session, we will explore the ways in which concepts of EDIA can help us challenge inequities in teaching and learning environments. During this session, we will generate a list of common understandings of EDIA and apply them to different scenarios. We’ll then consider the complexities and deeper underpinnings and how these better enable us to challenge inequities within our roles as TAs.

2:30- 2:45 PM Break
2:45- 3:30 PM

Managing Disruptive Classroom Behaviour in the Classroom

Presenters: Carla Britten, Ombudsperson, Ombudsperson Office  and Hazel Ling, MSW,RSW, Social Worker/Case Manager, Student Health and Wellness/Student Affairs

After two years of increased isolation, we have seen an impact on student resilience, coping with stress, and behaviour/escalation responses that do not appear proportional to situations. These experiences impact how you work, how you teach, and how you interact with others. It is important to understand how to manage these behaviours because they can also impact you, your previous experiences, and your relationships. It is not one size fits all approach, but our hope is to help set you up for success to be proactive in managing these behaviours. 

This trailer session is an introduction to an interactive workshop that will cover topics such as recognizing and responding to dangerous, disruptive, and difficult behaviour you may encounter, how to set yourself up for success in the classroom, scenarios to practice new skills and learn from each other and finally, discuss further resources to assist you and your students.

Day 2 - Sept 7, 2023

9:30 – 10:45 AM

Empowering Students with Effective Written Feedback  

Presenter: Janice MacDonald Eddington, Writing Advisor at the Writing Centre 

Efficient feedback strategies TAs can use to help students improve the expression of their ideas, learn the conventions and expectations of their discipline, and empower them in their future academic work, while effectively managing the time devoted to commenting on each paper. This session will also include strategies for helping students with academic integrity concerns in their writing.

10:45 – 11:00 AM


11:00 – 12:00 PM

Generative Artificial Intelligence: Challenges and Opportunities for Teaching Assistants  
Kate Crane, Educational Developer (Online Pedagogy)

In this info session, participants will learn general information about the state of generative artificial intelligence and the challenges and opportunities it poses to teaching and learning. The session will also present ways to prepare yourself to manage some of these new complexities, including questions to ask the instructor of your course and how to identify possible AI use in assignments.

12:00 – 1:00 PM


1:00 – 2:30 PM

From Novice to Expert: Navigating the Complexities of Experienced Teaching Assistantship  

Facilitators: Dr. Leanne Stevens; Nasim Tavassoli
Panelists: Megan Baker, Dr. Todd Bishop, Dr. Gillian Gass, and Dr. Jennifer L. MacDonald
TA Panelists: Sophie Tattrie, and Joseph Weatherby

Experienced Teaching Assistants with more years of experience often encounter difficulties that extend beyond just grading. Their responsibilities become more intricate as they handle tasks such as coordinating labs, conducting office hours and tutorials, assisting students with assignments, and even delivering lectures for certain portions of the course or lab. While the specific roles of experienced TAs may vary across departments, there are certain shared skills that are essential for their success. In this panel discussion, we will have Teaching Fellows and TA Coordinators from the Chemistry and Biology Departments, who oversee the work and training of numerous TAs, share insights on the expectations set by instructors, the challenges faced by experienced TAs, and the support available to them. Additionally, we will hear from a few experienced TAs, who will share their personal journeys in teaching assistantship and discuss the factors that contributed to their success.


Break | 2:30 – 3:00 PM

3:00 – 4:00 PM

Brightspace for TAs  

Michelle McDonald, Instructional Support Technician and Trainer

This workshop will introduce attendees to the Brightspace interface. We will look at system navigation, course homepages and the content tool. Each participant will have their own sandbox and will be able to add an announcement in the News widget and explore other widgets that can be added to the Homepage. Participants will also work inside the Content Tool to be able to add modules to the Table of Contents, add content and manage modules. Participants will be able to build a basic course at the end of this workshop.