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Fall 2014 Teaching Assistant Orientation

Advance registration is now closed.

See the Registration Information below for details about walk-in registration.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
8:00 am to 3:30 pm
Duke Ellington Ballroom, Holmes Student Center


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 Overview - Bradley Bond, Associate Vice-President for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate School
8:45 am   Preparing to Teach and Support Learning
9:30 am   Managing Your Classroom Effectively
10:00 am   Morning Break
10:15 am   Assisting Students with Emotional/Behavioral Concerns
    Using Library Resources for Teaching
    Reducing Barriers for Students with Disabilities
11:15 am   Teaching with Technology
11:45 am   Lunch in the Blackhawk Cafeteria (Menu)
1:00 pm   Handling Academic Misconduct and Disruptive Students
    Teaching Across the Disciplines Panel Discussion
2:15 pm   Break
BREAKOUT SESSIONS (Select one session while registering)*
2:30 pm  

David Changnon

Providing Teaching-Related Support, Heritage Room
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.

Stephen Wallace

Using Grading Strategies to Promote Student Learning, Illinois Room
Stephen Wallace, Office of Assessment Services

Q: What word comes to mind when you think of assessment, grading, and statistics? A: Fear? Anxiety? Dread? Well let's change that. In this one-hour session, Steve Wallace, Associate Director of the Office of Assessment Services, will share successful tips and strategies that can transform traditional grading and feedback into something that is inspirational. Whether you will provide grading support, teach a course, tutor, run a lab or studio, you will inevitably need to evaluate students and provide feedback. Learn how to do this in effective and efficient ways, which can be empowering for you and your students.

Joseph Scudder

Presenting/Communicating Effectively, Room 305
Joseph Scudder, 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, Joseph Scudder, Professor in Communications, 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 405
Jenny Parker, Associate Vice Provost for Educator Licensure & Preparation 

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, Jenny Parker, Associate Vice Provost for Educator Licensure & Preparation, and recipient of NIU’s Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, will share a variety of strategies to promote student engagement in your classes.

Janet Giesen

Finding Your Teaching Style, Room 505
Janet Giesen, Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center

How would you describe yourself as an instructor? Better yet, how would you “pitch” yourself or your course? Taking the time to think about who you are and how you teach can have a powerful impact on yourself and your students. In this session, Janet Giesen, Instructional Design Coordinator for the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, will discuss how to define yourself as an instructor, provide strategies for reflecting on and developing your teaching practice, and guide you in discovering your teaching style. NOTE: This is an advanced topic and is intended for returning or experienced TAs.
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 Teaching Assistant Orientation, but individual departments may require their graduate assistants to attend. Please check with your department about participation requirements.

Advance registration is now closed.

You may still attend the Teaching Assistant Orientation by registering in person on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 in the Duke Ellington Ballroom of the Holmes Student Center. Registration will start promptly at 8:00 am.

Please note that lunch ticket and materials will be provided to walk-in registrants on a first-come, first-served basis and may not be available for all walk-ins.

Registered participants will receive orientation materials, refreshments, lunch, and a certificate of participation. Due to the expensive nature of the orientation, 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 orientation.

The registration confirmation will be sent to your NIU email account, either your employee A-ID or student Z-ID email (whichever you use to register). Click here for more information about your ID and password. If you do not have an ID and password, and you have tried to look it up, email to register. After submitting your registration, 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 at by Monday, August 18, 2014.

Questions? View our FAQ or click on one of the most common questions below.

Last Updated: 12/04/2014