Teaching Assistant Professional Development Day

Monday, September 9, 2019
9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Dalhousie Student Union Building

The Teaching Assistant Professional Development Day takes place annually the second week of September. This free, one-day event is designed for TAs and students who are interested in a teaching career. 

Individuals choose from a variety of concurrent sessions designed to address the essential skills required by undergraduate and graduate students alike to effectively facilitate classes and to enhance their teaching skills.

Come join students from across the Dalhousie campuses!


Room 303

Room 307

8:00-8:45 AM

Registration (Rm 302)


Introduction to CUPE
Clare Heggie, 
MA Student, Dalhousie University
Room 303


Welcome from Graduate Studies
Dr. Adam Donaldson
Room 303


Breaking the Ice and Warming the Classroom

Tereigh Ewert-Bauer, M.A., Senior Educational Developer, (Diversity and Inclusivity)

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!

Teaching with Technology for TAs

Chad O’Brien, MEd, Educational Developer, Centre for Learning and Teaching and Les Johnson, PhD, Educational Developer, Centre for Learning and Teaching

In this session, representatives from the Centre for Learning and Teaching (CLT) will describe aspects of the eLearning landscape at Dalhousie. The first part of the workshop will include a demo of the various educational technologies, tools, and supports available at Dal, as well introduce you to the RAT model of technology selection and integration. The second part of the workshop will allow you to review case studies that parallel situations you may face as a TA, engaging with other graduate students to strategize approaches or solutions.


Bridging-the-Gap Between Theory and the Lab

Landon Getz, PhD Candidate, Microbiology and Immunology

It is challenging to help students notice and understand the connections between classroom theory and laboratory practice. How can TA’s bring theory from the classroom into the laboratory? This interactive session will explore how building connections between theory and laboratory practice can help a diverse range of students understand and solidify what they’ve learned and prepare TAs to help student “bridge-the-gap” between classroom content and lab practice.

Seminars: Create Engaging Discussion by Stewarding Student Engagement

Kate Crane, Second Year Master’s Student, Dept. of Sociology and Social Anthropology

Seminars can be intimidating environments for both learners and teachers. Does this sound familiar: “What should I talk about?”, “What if I sound stupid?”, “What if I have no opinions to share?” This TA Day workshop seeks to provide tips and principles in planning and executing seminar discussions in order to: facilitate student ease in discussion-based classes; promote considerate, lively, and deep exchanges between participants; and encourage the preparation for and use of seminar discussion and notes as a specific study and learning tool. The workshop will add to your tool-kit when it comes to engaging students in active learning environments, such as the seminar, tutorial, lab, or even office hours!


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

Rafael Amarante, PhD Candidate, Chemical Engineering

Robyn Moore, Master of Arts Student, School of Health and Human Performance

Jill Marie McSweeney-Flaherty, PhD, Educational Developer, Centre for Learning and Teaching

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!

Navigating Professionalism in the TA workplace

Phillip Joy, PhD Candidate, Faculty of Health, Graduate Teaching Associate, Centre for Learning and Teaching

Mabel Ho, PhD, Curriculum Developer, Centre for Learning and Teaching & Faculty of Graduate Studies

Teaching Assistants juggle multiple roles when interacting with students, fellow TAs, and faculty.  In this workshop we will define professionalism in the TA environment and generate strategies for handling different teaching scenarios in a professional manner and to make your classroom a positive learning environment. By the end of this workshop, you will be able to confidently and professionally navigate issues that may arise throughout the term. 


Pizza Lunch
12:50 - 2:00

Diversity: TA Essentials

Room 303

Tereigh Ewert-Bauer, Senior Educational Developer, (Diversity and Inclusivity), Landon Getz PhD Candidate Microbiology and Immunology, Jacob MacIsaac, Assistant Director, Security, Rachele Manett, CTRS, MA Leisure Studies Candidate, Oluronke Taiwo, Black Student Advisor

Embracing and supporting diversity is a central priority at Dalhousie. Within the classroom, student cohorts often represent a variety of cultural backgrounds, intersecting identities, and experiences. This plenary will share insight on the importance of diversity within the classroom. The session will provide you with knowledge about the supports on campus and will inform you of critical strategies to make your teaching more inclusive. You will learn how to make your learning environments effective and safe for all students.    


Marking Fairly and Giving Effective Feedback

Adam Auch, PhD, Dalhousie Writing Centre

Teaching Assistants have the opportunity to grade and comment on student assignments. Assessment is critical to knowing if the student is succeeding and if the teaching has been effective. This session will provide tips and techniques to TAs for marking and giving feedback that will help students learn the conventions and expectations of their discipline and empower them in their future academic work. 

Feedback and Marking in STEM

Asmita Sodhi, PhD Candidate, Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Evaluation is an important part of student learning and providing timely and constructive feedback provides avenues for the student to improve their work. But how do we provide feedback that is efficient, consistent, and useful to students? In this workshop, we’ll go through some general strategies for marking in STEM subjects, with the opportunity to mark example work and discuss the results with other participants.


Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in a University Classroom: Inclusive Strategies to Support Learners

Anna Maier, M.Ed, EAP Instructor, ESL Programs, College of Continuing Education

In this workshop, we will focus on fostering supportive instructional methods that are inclusive and engaging for culturally and linguistically diverse learners. We will discuss strategies and approaches that expose learners to environments that will optimize their learning experiences.

The Age of Disinformation: Library Supports to Help Students

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

In this session, we will talk about some key information literacy challenges many students face when doing university-level research for the first time, including distinguishing good information from "disinformation." 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.

Centre for Learning and Teaching

2019-20 Programs

Teaching Assistant Enrichment Program (TAEP)

A one-year (September to May) nationally accredited teaching program created for graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants. Program participants gain experience, knowledge, concepts and skills to apply to their teaching assistantships. Registration for this program opens in early August, 2019.
Register for TAEP 2019-20 at dal.ca/CLT


Certificate in University Teaching and Learning (CUTL)

Graduate students acquire a comprehensive set of concepts, techniques, and skills necessary to become an effective TA and future university teacher. Engage in reflective practice. Receive feedback from experienced faculty. Connect with peers across disciplines.
Register for CUTL at dal.ca/CLT

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