TA Conference

46th Annual Campus-Wide Teaching Assistant Conference

Each year, the Center for the Advancement of Teaching TA Training Program organizes a conference to provide pedagogical training and resource information to both new and continuing TAs. In addition to a plenary session and a featured panel session highlighting the practices of some of UCLA's best teaching faculty and graduate students, the TA Conference offers upwards of 30 different workshops in five categories, for a total of 95+ workshop sessions over the course of the two days. All of our workshops are offered in small-groups settings, with hands-on practice exercises and time built in for questions. There is sure to be something for everyone, whether you are a first-time or experienced instructor.

This event has passed for 2019. To stay up-to-date with our quarterly workshops and other TA training events, please click the button below to join our mailing list!
 

PAST EVENTS

The 46th Annual TA Conference was held Mon–Tues, September 23–24, 2019.

All graduate students, whether currently holding TA appointments or not, were invited to attend the TA Conference in preparation for future teaching assignments. Throughout the two days, graduate students had the opportunity to attend a variety of specialized workshops and panels on topics ranging from lesson planning and assessment & grading to preparing a teaching portfolio and improving communication in our multicultural classrooms. The Conference also included a plenary, a Distinguished Teaching Award winner panel, and multiple receptions to give graduate students an opportunity to meet their fellow TAs.
 

An overview the 2019 TA Conference schedule is below:

Understanding our workshop categories

  • Foundations: This series of five workshops is designed with the novice teacher in mind. Each workshop provides an introduction into key concepts and strategies for developing an evidence-based inclusive teaching practice. All first-time teachers are encouraged to attend this series. 
  • Preparedness: This collection of workshops provides a deeper look into pre-class preparation and skills-building for instructors of all levels.
  • Teaching Strategies: This set of workshops takes a deeper dive into specific pedagogies and in-class practices.
  • International TAs: This group of workshops is designed specifically to help international students navigate being a TA in a U.S. classroom.
  • Professionalization: Developed in partnership with the UCLA Career Center, this collection of workshops seeks to help graduate students translate their teaching experiences and skills to the job market post-graduation.
 
TA Conference Schedule Day 1 (9/23/19)
 
 
TA Conference Schedule Day 2 (9/24/19)
 

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Workshop Descriptions

Discussion sections are often the most rewarding part of class. Yet, as moderators of these discussions, TAs are frequently concerned that they will be staring at blank faces for an hour. This workshop will go over the principles of active learning and how to implement active learning strategies in your classrooms. You will take home strategies for designing good discussion questions, promoting active reading, and eliciting participation from reluctant students.

Lab sections are often daunting for first-time TAs due to the responsibilities required to keep students safe while also teaching important conceptual and technical information. In this workshop, you will learn strategies to engage students in different lab experiments and the importance of student-centered learning techniques. Through discussion and practice, you will learn to implement diverse teaching strategies and to encourage students to collaborate and explore the course materials on their own; keep students on track to ensure they finish their experiments within the allocated time; and troubleshoot what to do when experiments go awry. 

Discussion sections are often the most rewarding part of a class. Yet, as moderators of these discussions, TAs are frequently concerned that they will spend sections solving problems at the board for passive students. This workshop will go over the principles of active learning and how to implement active learning strategies in your classrooms. You will take home strategies for asking effective questions to engage students in solving problems, stimulating thoughtful discussions by reframing your questions, and eliciting participation from reluctant students.

Explore best practices for collaborating with community organizations in your teaching. In this workshop, you will learn about community-engaged teaching at UCLA, and participate in activities that will help you discover how collaborating with community organizations can offer high-impact learning for students across the disciplines. This workshop will also provide information about the Center for Community Learning’s 495CE course on engaged pedagogy and about resource hubs that support community-engaged teaching and research nationally.

How is assessment different from grading? Do you know when students have learned the knowledge and skills required to introduce new material? Is it possible to gauge your own effectiveness as an instructor prior to formal evaluations? In this workshop, you will discuss the difference between assessment and grading, the importance of incorporating assessment into your approach to instruction, and various assessment techniques to gauge student learning. You will learn to identify appropriate ways to evaluate student growth, develop a system for measuring your effectiveness in the classroom, and learn ways to more fairly grade your students. 

Teaching Assistants, faculty, and staff play a critical role in students’ university experiences and are in a unique position to become aware of a student in distress. This workshop will help you understand the components of this central role: identifying, responding to, and referring distressed students. You will learn to respond effectively to specific types of distressing behaviors to minimize classroom disruption while assisting the student with appropriate resources. You will also learn how to respond in case of an emergency.

The Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning ([email protected]) provides graduate students and postdocs from all disciplines with a path to become certified in evidence-based teaching and participate in programming with CIRTL participants across the country. This session will explain the [email protected] certification pathway: Associate, Practitioner and Scholar levels. You will hear from CIRTL graduate students and postdocs about their CIRTL certification process, and learn about research projects these graduate students and postdocs have developed from their teaching.

In this workshop, you will discuss strategies for creating respectful class communities that minimize instances of academic misconduct, grade complaints, and disruptive behavior. Through activities and discussion, you will learn to set clear expectations, foster a sense of personal responsibility in your students, create a course culture that facilitates active learning and participation, and navigate disciplinary issues. 

A well-constructed teaching statement must draw upon your genuine, specific, and informed beliefs about education, pedagogy, and creating inclusive learning communities. In this session and writing lab, you will begin to develop a personal teaching philosophy and practice reflective methods that will help track pivotal teaching moments in order to articulate your own approach to teaching.

In this workshop, you will learn strategies to proactively set norms supportive of an inclusive classroom. Through self-reflection, you will develop an understanding of your own identities and how these identities appear in the classroom. You will practice using active listening techniques to troubleshoot difficult moments in and outside of the classroom. This workshop focuses on proactive strategies rather than on confronting bias. You will practice inclusive strategies to apply in your own classrooms.  

Being an international student and a TA comes with distinct benefits and challenges. In this unmoderated panel discussion, you will benefit from international TAs’ experiences. You are welcome to share your own experiences or fears, ask questions, or just listen to learn teaching and communication strategies, and hear about the resources available to international TAs at UCLA.

Teaching a language for the first time can be daunting, whether you are concerned about how you will be received as a non-native speaker or how you will relate to other students’ cultures as a native speaker. In the first half hour of this workshop, you will experience a “shock lesson,” a demo lesson of first-day teaching in an unfamiliar language, which shows how an experienced language TA would introduce a language without speaking English. A panel of experienced language TAs will be available to share their experiences and answer your questions.

Students are often asked to communicate what they have learned in writing, but strengths and weaknesses in their writing can boost or hinder their ability to communicate what they know. During this workshop, you will learn how to identify which writing issues to address and ignore; how to preempt plagiarism and grade complaints; how to empower your students to effectively edit their own work; and how to better manage their writing time.  

Discover how to incorporate museum resources into your teaching practice. In this presentation by the associate director of academic programs at the Hammer Museum, you will learn about the Hammer’s free resources for TAs at UCLA. You will learn how to utilize the museum’s recently developed toolkit for college educators, which provides specific resources to help humanities TAs integrate works of art into graduate-student-developed courses and discussion sections. This workshop will provide information about how to set up class visits to the Hammer Museum and the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts. 

This workshop will offer an overview of how students learn and teaching techniques that will help your students achieve their goals. You will examine why material you’ve learned has stuck with you and the best ways to help your students hold onto the content you teach. Through activities and discussion, you will learn how to build on students’ prior knowledge, help students organize new knowledge, tap into students’ drives to learn, and use activities to encourage students to set goals. Our focus will be on the practical application of student-centered instruction.

Communicating effectively and inclusively with all students in your class requires intercultural communication skills and pedagogical tools. Through this workshop, you’ll learn how to identify your own communication style, develop an understanding of how dimensions of culture can impact interactions between you and your students, and build skills for approaching intercultural interactions in an academic setting effectively and appropriately. As a participant in this workshop, you’ll consider real-life examples to help you become a more effective teaching assistant.

This workshop builds on concepts and strategies learned in Creating Inclusive Classrooms to help you develop knowledge and skills for interrupting bias and managing hot moments in the classroom. In this workshop, you will engage in and practice vulnerability, active listening, recognizing intent versus impact, and strategies for confronting bias. You will walk away with a deeper understanding of the impact of bias from the perspectives of both students and instructors, as well as concrete tools for troubleshooting friction in the classroom. Note: We highly encourage you to take Creating Inclusive Classrooms before participating in this workshop. 

Many international TAs are concerned about adapting to new classroom environments and meeting student expectations. This workshop is designed to give you strategies for preparing, organizing, and presenting your lessons in an American university setting. 

The first day of class is one of the most important moments in the quarter. Expectations are set, agreements are made, and classroom culture begins to take shape—whether implicitly or explicitly. When planned with intention and care, the first day can dramatically alter the quality of the quarter ahead. Through a combination of exercises, discussion, and group reflection, this workshop will model ways of engaging with students to encourage them to take responsibility for their own learning, take intellectual risks, overcome habituated anxiety about grades, and tap into an innate desire to learn. 

This workshop will address practical issues of evaluation and time management while also exploring issues of power in feedback or critique-focused classroom situations. During the workshop, you will practice critical-response processes that maintain agency for the artist receiving feedback. This workshop is designed for TAs who will be teaching classes in which students make and show their own compositions, particularly in design, arts, and performing-arts-studio contexts. 

Teaching portfolios are a unique platform for graduate students to collect, assess, and present evidence that demonstrates teaching efficacy, even when not requested as part of an application. During this workshop, you will learn how to structure and build your portfolio. You will practice translating instructional experiences into strong portfolio entries that lead to concrete starting points for you to begin and maintain a teaching portfolio throughout your teaching career.

Need a break from pre-quarter pressures? This workshop, offered by UCLA's MoveWell, helps you build a kit of simple strategies to ease stress and anxiety. Use these tools for self-care and incorporate them into your sections as a TA. Learn somatic, mindful, and arts-based methodologies, as well as how to stay grounded, alleviate discomfort, and cultivate focus.

Mathematical problem-solving is a skill taught in many different subjects, including mathematics, statistics, economics, and applied sciences such as engineering. This workshop will offer you suggestions for leading problem-solving lessons that help students learn to solve problems themselves, rather than have you give away the answers.  

This workshop will address how to efficiently and effectively help students with their writing in your specific course. Through writing activities and discussions of best practices, you will learn to incorporate writing activities into your sections without losing time for addressing content.  

Writing is a critical part of the scientific process, and you rely on students’ writing to show you what they have learned. Yet, in an already packed syllabus, it can be difficult to find time to help students improve their writing. This workshop will introduce you to strategies for integrating writing pedagogy into science and lab courses, tips for teaching students to write within accepted scientific writing structures, activities to teach students to revise their writing, and best practices for giving effective writing feedback.

This workshop will serve as a model for effective lesson planning, focusing on formulating measurable learning objectives and aligning teaching strategies to them. With guidance, you will break down the process of creating effective lesson plans into manageable steps and tailor these steps to the needs of your discipline. You will practice creating a sample lesson plan and receive constructive feedback on it from your peers.

Being a TA can be challenging. You juggle research, teaching schedules, important meetings, and your personal life. There is no universal roadmap for how to keep all of these priorities balanced and sequenced properly, but this workshop will  help  you organize your  quarterly  schedule  and prioritize tasks according to importance and urgency.  You will learn strategies to achieve balance and identify online and campus resources to support your time-management goals.  

TILT focuses on how and why students learn course content. This workshop introduces you to the TILT method through small but impactful interventions on assignment design. You will revise low-and high-stakes assignments that promote equity and student accountability for their own learning.

Learning about your students helps make you a better instructor. This panel, composed of a diverse group of undergraduates at different stages in their college experiences, will tell you about their experiences as UCLA undergraduates and what kinds of academic practices have benefited them most to date. 

During this active learning session, you will learn how to develop content and teaching strategies to accommodate students with disabilities. According to a recent survey 16% of UCLA’s undergraduates identified as students with disability. It's important that you provide accessible learning experiences for students with disabilities. In this workshop, you will learn about the culture of disability, how to make your documents accessible to assistive technology, and the best practices for html and CCLE accessibility.  You will also learn about Universal Design for Learning (UDL), a teaching and learning framework designed for maximum inclusion. Please join us to help educate and empower this growing student population through inclusive design. Note: Please bring a laptop that has Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat (a trial version is fine) to this workshop.