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Fall 2010 Teaching Assistant Orientation

Tuesday, August 17, 2010
8:00 am to 3:15 pm


This orientation will introduce graduate teaching assistants to basic principles of teaching and related responsibilities, share information about campus support resources, and provide networking opportunities. Both new and continuing graduate assistants will benefit from the day’s sessions, which are presented by NIU faculty, staff, and administrators who are knowledgeable and experienced in the topics. Below is the tentative agenda:

Orientation Schedule:

8:00 am   Check-In and Refreshments
8:30 am   Welcome and Program Details
8:45 am   Knowing Your Teaching and Teaching-Related Responsibilities
9:45 am   Break
10:00 am   Managing Your Classroom Effectively
10:45 am   Retaining Students with Disabilities Through Universal Design and Barrier Reduction
    Assisting Students with Emotional/Behavioral Concerns
    Using Library Resources for Teaching
11:45 am   Lunch in the Blackhawk Cafeteria
1:00 pm
  Welcome by the Acting Dean of the Graduate School
    Working with Your Faculty Supervisor
    Promoting Academic Integrity in the Classroom
2:00 pm
BREAKOUT SESSIONS (Select one session while registering)*
2:15 pm

Chris Jones

Preparing to Teach, Heritage Room
Christopher Jones, Department of Political Science

Teaching can be a daunting challenge, particularly if you have never taught before. Sometimes, it's tough to know where to begin. In this session, Christopher Jones, Chair of the Department of Political Science and recipient of NIU's Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching award, will share some tips that should make the process easier. He will discuss what to do during your first class and how to overcome your jitters, as well as techniques for delivering instruction. He will also describe the wide variety of roles you may need to adopt throughout the semester.
    Providing Teaching-Related Support, Lincoln Room
Barrie Bode, Department of Biological Sciences

There are graduate assistants who may not deliver instruction but provide a variety of teaching-related support in and outside the classroom. This may include conducting lab sessions, grading, tutoring, leading recitations, conducting office hours, and assisting their faculty supervisors and students in many other ways on teaching and learning-related issues. In this session, Barrie Bode, Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, will offer tips and techniques for fulfilling the diverse tasks required of non-teaching GAs, but any TAs or GAs interested in the session can attend.
    Presenting/Communicating Effectively, Illinois Room
Kerith Woodyard, Department of Communication

Communication behaviors, both verbal and non-verbal, generally support the declared learning objectives and facilitate student comprehension. However, often without being aware of it, instructors use communication behaviors that can undermine the learning objectives. In this session, Kerith Woodyard, Assistant Professor of Communication will share strategies for communicating effectively in the classroom and help TAs to become aware of the communication strategies they use.

Jenny Parker

Teaching Strategies for Engaging Students, Room 305
Jenny Parker, Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education

Students learn best when they are actively engaged in their own learning. Yet creating an environment to encourage student engagement can often seem challenging for both new and experienced teachers. In this session, Dr. Jenny Parker, Program Director in Physical Education Teacher Education and recipient of NIU’s Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, will share a variety of strategies to promote student engagement in your classes.

Carolinda Douglas

Planning a Course, Room 306
Carolinda Douglass, Office of Assessment Services

One of the most time-consuming yet rewarding tasks that instructors face is planning a new course. You start with so little: an idea, a list of objectives, or an old syllabus, and create a course that your students may remember for years. You face a great number of challenges in between, from writing objective and selecting a textbook to designing lessons and creating assessments. In this session, Carolinda Douglass, Director of Assessment Services and Professor of Nursing and Health Studies, will provide you with suggestions and techniques that will simplify the process of creating and delivering a new course.
3:15 pm
  Evaluation and Closing at Individual Breakout Sessions

 Registration Information:

This orientation is open to all graduate teaching assistants, research assistants, and staff assistants at NIU. The orientation is designed for new graduate assistants, but continuing graduate assistants are welcome to attend. The sessions cover general teaching and teaching-related responsibilities which are applicable to all disciplines. The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center does not require graduate assistants to attend the TA Orientation, but individual departments may require their graduate assistants to attend. Please check with your department about participation requirements.

Registration Deadline: Friday, August 13, 2010, 4:30 pm (CST)

Registered participants will receive orientation materials, refreshments, lunch, and a certificate of participation. Due to the expensive nature of the program, limited seats available, and advance notice required for arrangements, please register by the deadline and attend the entire orientation. Certificate of participation will only be awarded for attending the entire program.

The registration response will be sent to your NIU email account. After submitting the registration form, if you do not receive a response within 2 working days, please contact the Center at After registering, if you are unable to attend, please cancel your registration by Monday, August 16, 2010 by completing the TAO Cancellation Form.

Questions? View our FAQ or click on a question below.

Registration Form

Registration has now closed. Walk-in registrations are permitted at the Regency Room in the Holmes Student Center on August 17 starting at 8:00am. Please understand that, due to the advance notice necessary to arrange the orientation, handouts and lunch may not be available for walk-in registrants. Any available materials will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Last Updated: 12/04/2014