The following are some frequently asked questions FGPA and the EDC receive about teaching assistant duties, training, and support.
- Offices and Departments Involved in TA Training
- General Information and Orientations
- TA Management System
- Mentorship Program
- EDC Certificate in Teaching Assistant Skills
1 – Offices and Departments Involved In TA Training
- Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs (FGPA)
- Offers TA scholarship to graduate students
- Allocates number of teaching assistants to each department
- Oversees paid training hours (through the TA Management System in Carleton Central)
- Collaborates with offices & departments on campus to offer information sessions and workshops
- Educational Development Centre (EDC)
- Responsible for training and support for teaching assistants
- Majority of training opportunities count towards paid training, but EDC is not officially associated with paid training hours
- Oversees the TA Mentorship program and training for Mentors
- Coordinates flexible training options: Peer Feedback, Peer Mentors, online workshops, TA Articles
- Collaborates with faculty, staff, and teaching assistants to offer Teaching Talks and Workshops
- Communicates information to teaching assistants via TA Support website, Twitter account, and blog
- Responsible for training and support for teaching assistants
- Responsible for indicating what kind of training is eligible for paid training
- May identify training expectations for the department (topics / formats that all teaching assistants participate in)
- May coordinate with EDC (and TA Mentors when applicable) to coordinate department specific training
- Communicates information to teaching assistants via graduate supervisor and administrator
- Campus Student Service Offices
- Frequently involved in information sessions and workshops
- Participating offices include Co-Op and Career Services, Equity Services, the Centre for Aboriginal Culture & Education, Health and Counselling, Learning Support Services, Paul Menton Centre, Student Affairs, and University Communications
- CUPE 4600
- Responsible for protecting the rights of teaching assistants according to the collective agreement
- Not currently involved in creating or facilitating TA training opportunities
- I am an undergraduate student. How do I become a teaching assistant?
If you are an undergraduate student and are interested in applying to become a TA, you should contact your department’s administrators to learn if they hire undergraduates as TAs and, if so, how to go about doing so. Please bear in mind that not all departments hire undergraduate TAs, and those that do often only hire them if there are insufficient numbers of graduate students available.
- I have not found out what course or instructor I am supporting. What should I do?
Teaching assistants commonly receive their course assignments at the beginning of the term.
If you have not received your assignment before the start of the term, politely contact your graduate supervisor to inquire when you can expect more information.
- I have been assigned to a course that I have no background for. What can I do?
Your department is responsible for assigning TAs to courses (this is likely done by your graduate supervisor). In the majority of cases, once the course has been offered to a TA, the chances of changing the assignment is unlikely.
If you have significant reservations, you should contact your Departmental Graduate Supervisor with your concerns. Explain why you’re tentative about the course and ask if there is a chance to support a different course.
In the event that you cannot be reassigned, be sure to relate your concerns to the faculty member who is teaching the course and ask for their help in better understanding the content.
- My faculty member has not completed the assignment of duties form. What should I do?
The assignment of duties form (indicating which tasks you will be charged with completing on a weekly basis) is available in Carleton Central once you have been assigned and accepted your course. If it has not been completed before the start of the term, it is strongly recommended that you contact the instructor to set up a face-to-face meeting and go over the assignment of duties form together.
There may be special reasons why your faculty member has not contacted you, but you are encouraged to be proactive in contacting them and clarifying their expectations – and yours – before the course begins.
- Who is the audience for the September TA Orientation?
The New TA Orientation, organized by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs, is only for new Carleton TAs. If you have been a TA at Carleton before, you should not attend this session. If you have been a TA at another institution and are new to Carleton, it is recommended that you attend this session to learn about institution specific groups and policies.
- I can't attend this year's New TA orientation. What should I do?
The New TA orientation is considered mandatory for all new Carleton TAs. If for some reason you are unable to attend this session, FGPA may record the orientation; if it is recorded, in the will be available on the Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs website later in the term, although it cannot be credited towards your paid training hours in this format.
For additional details on the orientation or to ask if it will be recorded, please visit the website for Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs here.
- I can't attend my departmental orientation. What should I do?
Most departments offer a graduate and/or teaching assistant orientation near the start of the Fall term. These orientations may introduce you to faculty, staff, and continuing teaching assistants in your department. If you cannot attend this session, you should contact your graduate supervisor or your graduate administrator in order to acquire this information.
“Paid training” hours refers to a clause (article 14) in the CUPE 4600 collective agreement (2013-2016) for teaching assistants
- Please explain the concept of paid training hours?
As per the new Collective Agreement (2013-2016), there are two kinds of paid training: Compliance Training and Pedagogical Training. Compliance training refers to mandatory, one-time training all TAs must complete in the first 4-6 weeks of employment, for which TAs are compensated for 5 hours of pay. Pedagogical training, by contrast, consists of ongoing, voluntary training, available to all graduate TAs with a 65+ hour TA assignment; TAs can earn up to 5 hours of payment for such training, each year. Please Note: For more information on Compliance and Pedagogical Training, see the next two FAQs.
- Please elaborate on the concept of Compliance Training?
Compliance Training refers to one-time, mandatory training to be completed by all TAs in the first 4-6 weeks of employment (e.g., by October 15 for Fall and Fall/Winter TAs; by February 15 for Winter-only TAs; and by June 1 for Spring/Summer TAs). After completion, TAs are compensated for 5 hours of pay (article 23.03); note that TAs can only complete and be compensated for this compliance training once during their tenure as a TA. Training currently includes 5 sessions, all available online (but note: the University reserves the right to amend from time to time, and in accordance with legislative requirements, the list of compliance training sessions below):
- Workplace Violence and Harassment (1 module)
- Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (3 modules)
- Employee Health and Safety Awareness (1 module)
In some instances, TAs are also required to complete the Supervisor Health and Safety Awareness Training module as part of the suite of Compliance Training. TAs working in labs are required to complete the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Training — but note that this module is not included as part of the suite of Compliance Training; TAs instead complete this session as part of their assigned TA duties. For further clarification on this subject, please see the FAQ on Training for CUPE 4600-1 members.
- Please elaborate on the concept of Pedagogical Training?
Pedagogical Training refers to ongoing, voluntary training opportunities, available to all graduate TAs holding an assignment of 65 hours or more per term, conducted between September-November and January-March (FGPA’s deadline are November 30th and March 30th). This means that all graduate teaching assistants with an assignment of 65 hours or more have the opportunity, each academic year (September-April) in which they are assigned as TAs to complete up to five hours of paid pedagogical training; if you are an undergraduate TA, contact your department directly regarding paid pedagogical training. Training is offered in both the Fall and Winter terms, but it can only be completed for pay during the terms in which you are a TA. We strongly recommend completing training early in the semester, when there is time to implement what you have learned. Fall-only graduate TAs need to complete their training hours before November 30th to receive full payment; and winter-only and full-year graduate TAs need to do so before March 30th.
There are a number of training options available to you via the following platforms:
- Carleton Central (workshops & teaching talks, department- and mentor-hosted training sessions)
- TA Support Website (workshops & alternate training options, including Peer Feedback, Peer Mentoring, TA Article, and Online Workshops)
- Grad Navigate (workshops on professional development, including areas such as research and writing, career planning, health and wellness, and more)
- What happens if I don't complete my pedagogical training hours?
While compliance training is mandatory, pedagogical training is voluntary. Payment for pedagogical training is a benefit for Carleton’s teaching assistants, providing TAs with the opportunity to enhance their teaching and professional skills while also receiving up to five hours of pay (article 23.03). CUPE 4600 negotiated for teaching assistants to be paid for pedagogical training after they have completed it. Individuals who do not (or decide not to) complete their pedagogical training will not be paid, and those who complete less than five hours will be paid only for the hours completed. This is standard policy for any working environment.
- I have questions or concerns about paid pedagogical training. Who should I contact?
The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs is responsible for monitoring paid training hours, which includes managing the TA Management System in Carleton Central. If you have questions or concerns, you should contact their office here.
- What training is eligible for my paid pedagogical training hours?
The New TA orientation facilitated by FGPA in September accounts for one hour for new teaching assistants (continuing teaching assistants should not attend this orientation). Departmental orientations, which vary in length, are also eligible so long as attendance is kept. Peer Feedback, Peer Mentoring, Microteaching, TA Articles, (online) workshops, information sessions, and many other activities are also eligible for paid training. For an extended description of training options, please check out the “TA Training” tab on Carleton Central, the TA Support Website, and Grad Navigate.
- Are paid training hours (compliance or pedagogical) accounted for in the assignment of duties form?
The mandatory five hours of compliance training and the optional five hours of pedagogical training that teaching assistants can pursue are in addition to their regular hours (260 for the full year or 130 per term). Teaching and professional development training are traditionally not included in the assignment of duties, and your faculty member is not responsible for assigning them (although they may ask you to seek out training for particular activities or skills).
- Let's be honest... why should I care about pedagogical training?
Carleton University is one of the few institutions that provides compensation to teaching assistants for developing their development as teachers and professionals. Our commitment of five hours of paid training, each year, to support your personal, pedagogical, and professional development is significantly higher than other Ontario post-secondary institutions.
Paid pedagogical training is available because CUPE 4600 and Carleton University believe that teaching assistants play an integral role in the education of our undergraduate population, and because we want our teaching assistants to succeed personally and professionally. For this reason, all teaching assistants, not only new ones, are encouraged each year to participate in the diverse range of training options available to them in order to create a more informed and educated teaching community.
The training you receive will serve you in a number of capacities. You will learn skills that will serve you in your current and future TA roles, and in any other future teaching role. You will gain valuable insights into the mechanics of your profession, thus improving your odds on the academic market, should you choose to pursue academia as a career. If you plan to work in a non-academic setting, the skills you will learn–about effective communication, problem-solving, facilitating and training, and so on–are transferable and will give you a competitive edge. Getting involved in teaching and professional training will help you in a variety of roles, now and in the future.
- What are my options for pedagogical training?
There are many kinds of training options. You should consult your assignment of duties form to identify the best kind of training to suit your needs. For the complete overview of training options, please check out the “TA Training” tab on Carleton Central, the TA Support Website, and Grad Navigate.
- How do I pick the best training opportunity for my needs?
We suggest seeking out the sessions and programs that are most applicable to the skills related to your TA duties as well as those you are interested in developing for your research and future career. With more than twelve training options, there are options for all different kinds of assignments. Bear in mind:
- Several training options are not visible in Carleton Central; see also the TA Support Website and Grad Navigate
- Several training opportunities – such as peer mentoring, peer feedback , TA articles, and online workshops – are more flexible (scheduling, format) than other forms of training
- Workshops cover introductory level content and are therefore intended primarily intended for new teaching assistants
- I don't have my TA assignment yet. How do I know which training to pursue?
If you are a new TA and don’t know what course you’ll be TAing for, we encourage you to postpone beginning training until you know your assignment (excepting, of course, Orientation sessions). Until you know what you will be asked to do, you can’t know what you need training on. Training is offered throughout the year through the EDC, Mentor-supported departments, and several other offices on campus. It is imperative that you pursue training that benefits your needs in order to ensure that you maximize your time.
- I am not TAing this term. Can I still work towards completing my five hours of paid pedagogical training?
No. While you are free to sign up to participate in training available to all graduate students (see Grad Navigate), such training will not be tracked and will not count towards completing your five hours of paid training. To earn their five hours of paid training, TAs must complete their training in the semester(s) in which they are working as a TA.
- All the workshops are full or don't apply to me!
Due to their introductory-level content, workshops are primarily intended for new teaching assistants, which comprise roughly 1/3 of Carleton’s teaching assistant population. Workshops do fill up quickly, so eligible teaching assistants should add themselves to the waitlist if they need to receive training on a particular topic.
You are also encouraged to explore the diverse other training options, since workshops are not the optimal method of training for experienced TAs.
- Why aren't there any workshops near the end of the term?
Workshop topics are often time sensitive. The goal is to provide training early in the term when teaching assistants require it most. For this reason, EDC workshops are scheduled for the first 4-6 weeks of each term. Mentors offer fewer workshops, but often stagger their sessions throughout the term, depending on need and topic. Several other forms of training – especially those flexible options such as the TA Article – do not have fixed timelines and may be more appropriate later in the term.
- I am a continuing teaching assistant with lots of experience. What can I do to complete my training?
Please look over this comprehensive list of training options. Since workshops are primarily intended for new teaching assistants, continuing teaching assistants are encouraged to explore training options that are suited to their knowledge and experience. One exception exists: if you have been assigned to a course that requires you to perform new activities or employ new skills, you may contact the facilitator of a session to ask if they will allow you to attend (this decision is made at the discretion of the facilitator and is not guaranteed).
- I'm a contributing panelist in a workshop. Can I claim this for my pedagogical training hours?
Yes. Even if you have already attended the same session in the past as a participant, your experience as a panelist is considered different and is therefore eligible for paid pedagogical training hours.
*Please note: This is not the case for participants in the Certificate in Teaching Assistant Skills. If you have already attended a session on the same topic, you are not learning something new. If, however, you have not attended a session on the topic of your panel discussion, then you are welcome to use it as a training session requirement for the certificate.
- My completed training hasn't appeared in Carleton Central yet. Who should I contact?
The process for capturing session attendance is largely manual, which means that it is time- and labour-intensive. The EDC strives to capture attendance within one week’s time of the session in question, and other departments on campus have similar turnaround times. During busy periods (e.g., September and January orientations, the Fall and Winter TA Training Day Events, etc.), however, departments may often need more than a week.
In general, please give departments 2 weeks to enter attendance before you contact anyone. If 2 weeks have passed and your attendance at the session is still not showing up on your TA Transcript, then it is time to contact someone. If your session was with the EDC (held in 404 or 422 Dunton Tower), please contact the EDC directly. If your session was with Co-Op and Career Services, Student Affairs, Health & Counselling, or Mitacs, please contact FGPA directly. If you don’t know which department hosted your session, then you should contact the session facilitator directly.
Please note: You are strongly encouraged to track your progress independently of the TA Management System in order to ensure its accuracy. In the event of a discrepancy, you are responsible for ensuring your training is captured in Carleton Central.
- How do I register for training?
The majority of training is eligible for registration in Carleton Central; however, several options cannot be registered for in this manner. For the full list, please explore our Pedagogical Training page and FGPA’s Grad Navigate.
For those sessions available in Carleton Central, click on the TA Training link located under the Student Support Services tab to view all of the available opportunities. For those EDC sessions not available in Carleton Central, contact the EDC or your TA Mentor (select departments). For Grad Navigate hosted workshops, contact the contact person listed on the workshop in question.
Please note: If you are in a Mentor-supported department, you are encouraged to participate in department-specific training. To see which departments have Mentor support, click here
- I can no longer attend a session I registered for in Carleton Central. How do I de-register?
If you cannot attend a session or complete a flexible training option, you should de-register immediately.
- Enter Carleton Central
- Click the TA Training link
- Select the title of the session you are no longer able to attend and click de-register
- Confirm that you wish to proceed (at this time you will be de-registered).
- How does the waitlist work?
If a registered participant de-registers from a full session, the first five individuals on the waitlist will automatically receive an email informing them a space has become available. *Please note* If you receive an email, this does not guarantee you a space in the session! The first individual to log into Carleton Central, open the session from their list of upcoming sessions, and click the register button will assume the vacant space.
For a detailed slideshow of how to register for a session while on the waitlist, please click here.
- Why isn't my training from previous terms/years appearing in the database?
Training completed before Winter 2010 will not appear in the TA Management System. If you attended sessions before this date and wish to know how close to completion you are in the Certificate in TA Skills, please contact the EDC to confirm your attendance record.
- Why isn't the September 2010 FGPA orientation appearing in Carleton Central?
A decision was made by FGPA not to input the attendance record for the New TA Orientation held in September 2010 and as a result this session does not appear in the management system.
- What is the Mentorship Program?
The Mentorship Program features experienced teaching assistants in select departments providing department specific training. These individuals mentor their peers, organize orientations, facilitate and coordinate training, and provide advice and feedback to their peers. Typically, the program encompasses 9 departments, plus the ITA Mentor. The full list of Mentor-supported departments can be found here.
- Why should I attend Mentor training?
Mentor training is specifically catered to the needs of the particular department. In many cases, this content is supplemented by faculty and continuing teaching assistants who provide concrete examples from courses that you may be assigned to. For this reason, all teaching assistants in Mentor-supported departments are strongly encouraged to utilize the resources of their Mentor as much as possible.
In addition to specific content, the majority of these sessions will count towards the requirements for the EDC’s Certificate in Teaching Assistant Skills. Please bear in mind that duplicate sessions between the Mentor and EDC will not count for credit.
- How do I register for a Mentor session?
Mentor sessions such as workshops, Teaching Talks, and other forms of “in-person” training can all be registered for in Carleton Central. If you wish to participate in a type of training that does not require registration such as Peer Feedback, Peer Mentor, or Workshop Panelist or Workshop Creator, you should contact your Mentor directly.
- Which departments are participating in the Mentorship Program?
The list of Mentor-supported departments can be found here.
- How do I become a Mentor?
Whether or not you can be considered as a Mentor for your department depends on whether or nor your department is participating in the Mentor program. In February, all departments are invited to submit an application for the program, usually due before the end of the winter semester. Before submitting, the department must identify a mentor candidate, using whatever process they choose to implement, and discuss the application with him/her. Individuals who are interested in the Mentor role are encouraged to speak to the existing Mentor or (if your department is not Mentor supported) their graduate supervisor.