This newsletter is being sent directly to Teaching Assistants as well as to department Graduate Secretaries. If you have any questions or concerns, please email us.

Were you forwarded this newsletter and would like to subscribe? Sign-up here!

Learning and Teaching Happenings and Resources for Teaching Assistants

January 2023 | Issue 1

Starting Fresh - A New Term

Welcome to 2023! Congratulations on starting your Teaching Assistant (TA) position here at the University of Victoria (UVic). It is a new year, and a new term – a great time to begin anew and start fresh.

Before your first class, lab, tutorial, discussion, you may want to connect with the course instructor with whom you will be working over the course of the term. They can answer any questions you may have around class policies, timelines, and expectations.

As you prepare for your first class, set your personal goals for your TA position, and think about what you are wanting students to take away from the course, you can consider where the room is located, when you will hold office hours, practicing for the first class, and thinking about community building activities.

Our theme for this newsletter is setting goals and intentions for your work as a TA, and what it is you are hoping to work towards and walk away with by the end of the term.

Check out more TA Guides to get you started

January's Featured
Teaching Assistant Consultants (TAC) - Words of Wisdom

profile photo of Lyn

Lucie Kotěšovská (she/her)

Mindfulness is sometimes defined as an ability to start again. More specifically, to start again with a full focus upon catching our mind wandering away and about. A message of hope is present in this definition. There is no reason why you could not just start the next ten minutes of a conversation after you have not been fully present in it or why you could not draft your most inpired paragraph after an aimless hour or two. I do not set any expectations or resolutions for myself for the coming year which would haunt me and daunt me. I prefer to think of the new year in terms of the mindful practice as starting again - as being given a chance to start with a full focus (and even several times). I find true hope and honouring of oneself in this.

profile photo of Julia

Mahsa Torabi (she/her)
Civil Engineering

The process of setting goals helps you choose where you want to wind up at the end of the semester. By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts. You'll also quickly spot the distractions that can, so easily, lead you astray. Here is a three-step goal setting plan that I found helpful:

First you create your "big picture" of what you want to do with your program and identify the large-scale goals that you want to achieve when you graduate.

Then, you break these down into the smaller and smaller targets that you must hit to reach your long-term goals. Determine goals that you must achieve in this semester and break them in attainable and measurable pieces.

Finally, use these steps to setup your monthly plan. This will assist you in time management and measuring progress. Once you have your plan, you start working on it to achieve these goals. Don't forget to review your plan throughout the semester to be mindful of the next step. Good luck!

profile photo of Mehrab

Petranella Daviel (she/her)

The start of a new term offers so many opportunities as TAs. After a period of rest (hopefully) and reflection over the break, we can come back refreshed and motivated. A new start, whether in a brand-new course, new unit, or back at the beginning of a course you're familiar with, offers a great chance to apply learning from your experiences last term. Look back at the feedback you got from students, or your own reflections on your work. What wasn't working for you that you could leave behind this term?

What felt good and was helpful to your students? What's something new you could try? Self-reflection is one of the most valuable tools we have to improve our teaching, particularly when we may have limited opportunities for outside feedback. It allows us to deeply consider our experiences, skills, and room for improvement and greater fulfillment in our work. At the start of a new TA experience, I consider what areas of focus are important to me and relevant to the course & responsibilities I have, then ask myself what opportunities I have to include them in my TA work, and what has worked best in the past. This always gets me excited for the new term!

profile photo of Mehrab

Isaac Earl (he/him)

I feel that at the beginning of the term, it is very important to practice healthy goal-setting. Instead of doing as much work as possible within a specific time frame, create one goal at a time and work from there.

Instead of saying "I will write this entire paper today" say "I will write 250 words of this paper today". The second that we create a goal that is inherently difficult to achieve within a specific time frame, we get disappointed in ourselves for not reaching that goal in time. That self-disappointment is detrimental to our mental health and outlook on the semester.

So please be kind to yourself and work on healthy goal-setting. Plan to read a 50-page article over 3 days instead of 4 hours straight. Study in 1-hour time frames with breaks instead of 7 hours non-stop. Break your tasks up into as many pieces as you can. A good method is to try to take an assignment/paper/exam-study period of yours and break it up into 10 smaller tasks. 

One step at a time! You've got this!

Teaching Assistant Supports

  1. Supports for International TAs are available for international TAs and for TAs supporting international students. These include connecting with our International-Focused Teaching Assistant Consultants. They are available to answer any questions you may have as an international TA or with supporting international students, providing teaching observations of international TAs, and one-on-one consultations to support you as you are teaching at UVic.

  2. TA and Graduate Student Certificates are a great way to enhance your professional development and build your CV. Check out the available TA and Graduate Student Certificates.


Teaching Assistant Events & Workshops

Missed a TA Conference session? Not to worry, some are repeated throughout the spring term. Check out the offerings on Learning Central - filter by provider "LTSI" and look for the "LTSI/TA" tag! TAs are also encouraged and welcome to attend instructor workshops.

View all upcoming workshops

Doing TA Work (self-paced asynchronous course)

Have you been tasked with a teaching assistant (TA) position for an online course or a course that uses online components in a blended format? In this online course, you will access information and resources you require to successfully perform your TA duties via Brightspace and other online tools.

Learn more and register


Student Resources and Supports

Learn Anywhere is the best place for students to access resources and supports for in-person, blended and online learning and access our student academic success supports (Learning Strategies Program, Math and Stats Assistance Centre, Centre for Academic Communication)

Share Learn Anywhere with your students


Contact Us

Would you like to contribute to this newsletter, or have questions regarding our workshops, events or resources?

E-mail us