The common thread through all TLAP programming is ensuring that TAs and Labor Supervisors alike feel well-supported in their work and have access to up-to-date resources and proven strategies for supporting learners at all levels. We believe TA work is significantly deepened by regular opportunities to learn with and from TA colleagues across campus. For this reason, we offer a variety of programming.
Annual TA Orientation
Each fall, before the start of classes, both new and experienced TAs are invited to kick off the school year with a multi-hour orientation. For new TAs, this orientation acclimates them to the basic policies and procedures of TA work at Berea and offers some important frameworks and suggestions for working in a peer teaching role. For more experienced TAs, the orientation highlights policy changes, advertises upcoming relevant programming, and allows them to meet and mentor new TAs in their home department.
Because one of the most important goals of Teaching and Learning Assistant Programs is to provide structured opportunities for students to discuss their shared work, TA orientation is a vital part of our programming. Each year, over a hundred students attend this event, making it one of the largest instructional gatherings of upperclassmen from across departments.
Among the topics typically covered in TA orientation are:
Invitations with date, time, and food details—as well as reminders—are sent via e-mail to students and Labor Supervisors during the weeks prior to the start of fall classes.
If you have questions, suggestions, or are interested in being a guest speaker at orientation, please reach out to the TLAP director.
Multiple times per month, TLAP offers training sessions for new and experienced TAs, centered on common questions and concerns that shape undergraduate TA work. Sessions are typically led by the TLAP director and informed by current scholarship in peer learning and leadership. Just like TA orientation, training sessions also introduce TAs to assisting students within Berea’s specific context and promote strategies for helping students across the disciplines. Attendees can expect to learn with—and from—other TAs from across departments and to engage in hands-on activities relevant to their labor position.
Training sessions are held the hour before weekly labor meetings. A schedule for each semester’s offerings is sent via e-mail to students and Labor Supervisors. A dynamic schedule is always available on the TA Moodle site.
Common topics include:
- Structuring One-on-One and Group Tutoring Meetings
- Grading and Providing Feedback
- Supporting Study Skills
- Motivating Students
- Listening Actively
- Handling Difficult and/or Sensitive Situations
- Developing Workshops and Presentations
- Inclusive Tutoring/TAing
Session attendance counts as labor hours (with Labor Supervisors’ approval). All sessions are also designed to help students meet the requirements for obtaining a Level-1 International Tutor Training Program Certificate through the College Reading and Learning Association.
Department Labor Meetings and Discipline-Specific Workshops
While the TA training series focuses on topics applicable to TA work across departments and disciplines, we also recognize that the central tasks of Berea TAs also vary across these contexts. For example, some TAs might find that much of their work in a TA is leading group activities in lab settings while others might be working exclusively one-on-one with struggling students.
If you are a student leader within a departmental TA cohort or a Labor Supervisor who believes your TA(s) might benefit from some focused training, activities, and reflection during your labor meeting hour, contact TLAP. One of the added benefits of bringing a facilitator from outside your department to your labor meetings is that it can help students understand the greater significance of the work they’re doing and better understand their position in the larger community of TAs across campus. Additionally, TAs may feel more comfortable asking questions about campus resources or admitting gaps in their understanding, because the facilitator (TLAP director) is not completing evaluations for them and is rarely viewed as a close mentor in the way Labor Supervisors often are.
In consultation with you, the TLAP director can design and deliver a department/subject-specific training during select labor meeting hours.
Example Topics From Past Department Labor Meetings
- Facilitating Class Discussions
- Conducting Peer TA Observations
- Working with Students with Subject-Specific Anxiety
- Encouraging Student Participation During TA-Led Lab Meetings
- Using Active Learning Techniques in Group Tutoring
- Designing Collaborative TA Projects
- Common Patterns in [Subject Area] Student Support
Individual and Group Consultations
The TLAP Director is always available to consult confidentially with TAs and Labor Supervisors individually or in groups about anything related to TA work. For example, if you’re a new faculty member who has been given a TA upon arrival at Berea, you might meet to discuss how to make the most of your TA’s strengths or to better understand the common practices of TAing and supervising TAs at Berea. If you’re an experienced Labor Supervisor, you might be interested in re-structuring an outdated TA position description and re-thinking how TAs might better serve your courses.
Some additional consultation topics include:
- (TA) Designing and presenting workshops in your Labor Supervisor’s course
- (TA) Establishing boundaries around TA work
- (TA) Structuring one-on-one sessions with difficult students
- (TA) Balancing TAing and your own schoolwork
- (TA) Explaining your TAing experience in job/internship/school applications
- (TA Student Leader) Productively leading a TA cohort of your classmates
- (Labor Supervisor) Hiring TAs with greater diversity in mind
- (Labor Supervisor) “Stacked” models for structuring a TA lab or cohort
- (Labor Supervisor) Better integrating TAs in class meetings
- (Labor Supervisor) Motivating struggling TAs
- (Labor Supervisor) Communicating labor expectations to TAs
This is just a start! The TLAP director is happy to discuss any TA-related task, problem, or joy. Just let us know.
Since 2016, Berea’s Center for Teaching and Learning has been approved to certify students as “Level-1 Tutors” through the College Reading and Learning Association’s International Tutor Training Program. This means that our programs’ components have been regularly reviewed by experts in the field of student support, and we’ve demonstrated our investment in ensuring that students’ peer learning experiences are shaped by current research and best practices.
The TLAP director is our local liaison for CRLA, and, for TAs interested in certification, the person to contact. Please see this page for an overview of certification requirements for TAs.