Teaching Assistant Professional Development Day

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Dalhousie Student Union Building

This one-day annual Teaching Assistant Professional Development Day is a series of workshops that takes place the second week of September. Workshops focus on TAs and graduate students who are interested in a teaching career.  Individuals choose from concurrent sessions designed to address the essential skills required by graduate students to effectively facilitate classes and enhance their teaching skills. 



Slot A (Rm 303)

Slot B (Rm 307)


Registration (Rm 302)


Welcome from Dean of Graduate Studies, Dr. Marty Leonard
Rm 303


Jill Marie McSweeney (PhD)
Educational Developer, Centre for Learning and Teaching

Title: Introducing the Certificate in University Teaching and Learning (CUTL) and the Teaching Assistant Enrichment Program (TAEP).

The Centre for Learning and Teaching offers two formal programs to help students develop and document their teaching skills, and gain experience and professional competencies to apply to their teaching assistantships. Learn more about these programs, their impact on participants’ teaching development and practice, how they can give you an advantage in the job market, and how they can help you navigate your teaching responsibilities today and in the future!

Tereigh Ewert-Bauer
Senior Educational Developer (Diversity and Inclusivity), Centre for Learning and Teaching

Title: Breaking the Ice and Warming the Classroom

You might be nervous on your first day of teaching, but so are your students! Many teachers like to use “ice breaker” activities on the first day of class. These exercises are named after a huge boat that breaks up the ice on the ocean so that smaller vessels can travel through. Likewise, using an “ice breaker” activity on your first day can clear a path for a comfortable and interactive classroom. Using a variety of ice breakers in this session, we will figure out which ice breaker(s) we might want to use, based on what they accomplish. All ice breakers are not the same!


Lindsay McNiff (MA, MI)
Learning & Instruction Librarian, Dalhousie Libraries

Title: Dalhousie Libraries – How we can help you with your learning and teaching!

In this session, we will talk about some key information literacy challenges many students face when doing university-level research for the first time. We will also discuss some important subject-specific research resources you can show your students and the other supports that are available for you and your students from the Libraries.


Chad O’Brien (M.Ed, B.Ed, B.Sc, B.A)
Project Manager/Educational Developer, Centre for Learning and Teaching

Title: Technology and Education

Technology and education is a vast and rapidly changing field.  Many universities use a range of technologies to enhance the learning environment.  This workshop will provide graduate students with a general understanding of how to maximize the benefit of technologies from a pedagogical perspective.   Participants will engage, review, and collaborate on multiple topics.  Though not required, it would be helpful for attendees to bring a Wi-Fi enabled device!


Phillip Joy (PhD Candidate), School of Health and Human Performance and Justine Dol, (PhD Candidate), Faculty of Health

Title: Team Spirit: Fostering Positive Relationships with Others

The objective of this workshop is to explore the opportunities and challenges TAs may experience when working with other TAs, which is a common practice in large courses. Although this workshop is focused on working within a team of TAs, it will be useful for all TAs who are looking to enhance social skills that can help improve relationships with professors and students. Using scenarios that are applicable to a wide range of disciplines, we will discuss how to handle different situations that you may encounter in team TAing, both with students and with the other TAs. Together we will explore tips that will help you foster positive team dynamics, build team leadership skills, and be an effective TA, individually and as a team. 

Emily Huner, Director of Operations, Student Health & Wellness and Hazel Ling, Social Worker/Case Manager for Student Health and Wellness

Title:  Dealing with Angry Students

This session will help TAs effectively support a student who is angry and presenting with  challenging behaviour. The session will cover practical strategies that can be used to de-escalate difficult situations you may experience as a TA, with consideration for safety and maintaining healthy and professional boundaries.


LUNCH (12:20-12:50) & PLENARY (12:50-2:00) Christine Whitehouse (PhD Candidate), Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Sarah Peverill (PhD Candidate), Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Michelle Malloy (MEd), Private Practice Counselling Therapist

Being a graduate student often requires balancing several obligations, which can make it difficult to keep on top of activities that promote positive physical and mental health and wellbeing. Our panelists each have expertise and experience with graduate student life and will discuss important issues that graduate students may face, including student-supervisor relationships, work-life balance, and positive mental health.


Adam Auch, PhD
Writing Advisor, Writing Centre

Title: Giving Effective Feedback

Teaching Assistants have the opportunity to be teachers, even when they are limited to grading and commenting on student assignments. This session will provide tips and techniques to TAs for giving feedback that will help students learn the conventions and expectations of their discipline and empower them in their future academic work.

Rachele Manett, CTRS
MA Candidate, Leisure Studies 

Title: Diversity and Inclusion: Fostering Safer Spaces in the Classroom

Whether you are a teaching assistant, instructor or student, it is our job to work together to create safer spaces at Dalhousie, especially for marginalized individuals. In this session, we will explore our own diverse identities and potential privileges, and discuss ways to foster respect and inclusion in our classrooms, labs and other spaces where we hold power.


Presenter: Shazia Nawaz (Ed.D), College of Continuing Education and Ayesha Mushtaq (BA, MA, M.Ed. Candidate), College of Continuing Education

Title: Teaching in English

Being a teaching assistant can present a variety of challenges. If English is not your first language, it can add stress to the task of expressing ideas and interacting with your learners in the classroom. This session will include strategies, discussion and practical exercises to help develop your communication and teaching skills.​


Sean Aitken (PhD Student)
Graduate Teaching Associate, Centre for Learning and Teaching

Title: Teaching Labs and Grading Lab Reports

Teaching and grading labs is an exciting opportunity for TAs to experience multiple teaching strategies, as you often instruct and grade groups of students while also spending time working with and providing feedback to learners one-on-one. We’ll look at some of the specific challenges TAs face when running labs and discuss ways to create effective learning experiences for students. After that, we’ll discuss grading lab reports and ways to help you get students thinking deeply about their work.

Professional development hours will be given for attending all but the 'Introduction to the Certificate Program' and the 'Teaching Assistant Enrichment Program (TAEP)' sessions.