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Fall 2012 Teaching Assistant Orientation

Tuesday, August 21, 2012
8:00 am to 3:30 pm

Advance registration is now closed

See the Registration Form for information about walk-in registration.


At this orientation, graduate teaching assistants will learn the basic principles of teaching and related responsibilities, gather information about campus support resources, and network with other GAs, faculty, and resource staff. While it is designed for new graduate assistants, continuing graduate assistants will also benefit from the orientation. The day’s sessions 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   Preparing to Teach and Support Learning
9:45 am   Break
10:00 am   Managing Your Classroom Effectively
10:45 am   Assisting Students with Emotional/Behavioral Concerns
    Using Library Resources for Teaching
    Retaining Students with Disabilities Through Universal Design and Barrier Reduction
11:45 am   Lunch in the Blackhawk Cafeteria (Menu)
1:00 pm   Promoting Academic Integrity in the Classroom
    Teaching Across the Disciplines Panel Discussion
2:15 pm   Break
BREAKOUT SESSIONS (Select one session while registering)*
2:30 pm  

Jason Rhode

Teaching with Technology, Room 305
Jason Rhode, Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center

A wide assortment of instructional technologies are available that will not only enhance the learning experience for your students but also save you time. But what technologies fit best into your teaching? In this session, Jason Rhode, Assistant Director of the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, will provide an overview of the technologies available for TAs at NIU and share recommended steps for effectively incorporating technology in teaching. While this isn't a hands-on training session, Dr. Rhode will introduce various instructional technologies and highlight upcoming training sessions and available campus resources.
    Presenting/Communicating Effectively, Room 306
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.

David Changnon

Providing Teaching-Related Support, Room 405
David Changnon, Department of Geography

Many graduate assistants 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, David Changnon, Professor of Geography, 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.

Carolinda Douglas

Planning a Course, Room 406
Carolinda Douglass, Division of Academic and Student Affairs 

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, Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Development, will provide you with suggestions and techniques that will simplify the process of creating and delivering a new course.

Jenny Parker

Teaching Strategies for Engaging Students, Room 505
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.
3:30 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; individual departments may provide more detailed discipline-specific training. 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 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm

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. A 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 20, 2012 by completing the TAO Cancellation Form.

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

Registration Form

Advance registration is now closed. Walk-in registrations are permitted at the Regency Room in the Holmes Student Center on August 21, 2012 starting at 8:00 am. 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