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Faculty Development

Teaching Assistant Orientation FAQ

Attendance

Who may attend the Teaching Assistant Orientation?

The Teaching Assistant Orientation is open to all those with graduate teaching assistant, research assistant, or staff assistant appointments at NIU during the semester it is offered.

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Who is the Teaching Assistant Orientation designed for?

The Teaching Assistant Orientation is designed for new graduate assistants at NIU who need a basic overview of teaching and teaching-related responsibilities, policies, and campus support resources. Returning graduate assistants are also welcome to attend to refresh their knowledge about teaching and related issues.

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Is attendance at the Teaching Assistant Orientation required?

The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center does not require graduate assistants to attend the Teaching Assistant Orientation. However, participating in the orientation may be required by some departments on campus. Check with your department about participation requirements.

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Should returning graduate assistants attend the Teaching Assistant Orientation?

While we strive to ensure that the Teaching Assistant Orientation is relevant and up-to-date, the majority of the content remains the same each year. Returning graduate assistants are welcome to attend the orientation again, but may find that the content is similar to the previous orientation they attended.

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I have another meeting or orientation the same day as the Teaching Assistant Orientation. May I attend only part of the day?

We understand that the week before classes is busy for many graduate assistants. We encourage you to attend as much of the Teaching Assistant Orientation as possible, but you may leave if necessary. However, please note that certificates of participation are only awarded for attending the entire day. Also, if you attend only part of the day, that will be reported to your department.

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I can't attend the Teaching Assistant Orientation. Is there another way to get the information that is presented?

If the Teaching Assistant Orientation presenters make their handouts and presentation materials electronically available for posting them online, we will make them available on our website after the orientation is over. There are a few tutorials that present some of the information. See Overview of Teaching and Related Responsibilities, Promoting and Maintaining Classroom Civility, and Recognizing and Assisting Students in Emotional Distress.

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Is attendance at the Teaching Assistant Orientation necessary to earn the Graduate Teaching Certificate?

Yes, attendance at the Teaching Assistant Orientation is mandatory to receive the Graduate Teaching Certificate offered by the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. You will also have to attend 5 additional workshops offered by the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. Attending one day-long workshop can be substituted for two of the required five workshops. You can learn more about the Graduate Teaching Certificate here.

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What should I bring with me to the Teaching Assistant Orientation?

It would be helpful to bring a pen and some paper or a small notebook to take notes. Also, since we have no control over the temperature of the room, you may want to bring a light jacket or sweater.

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Is there a fee for attending the Teaching Assistant Orientation?

There is no fee for attending the Teaching Assistant Orientation; the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center offers the orientation free of charge. However, it is expensive to provide the food, materials, AV, and speakers’ needs, not to mention the time our staff devotes to planning and executing the program. The Center does not receive student fees or grants to fund the Teaching Assistant Orientation and other programs. Therefore, we would appreciate if those who register for the Teaching Assistant Orientation are not absent on the day of the program. If you know you will be unable to attend, please cancel by the deadline so that we may give opportunities for those on the waiting list to attend and/or reduce program expenses.

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Will I be given a parking pass to attend the Teaching Assistant Orientation?

No, our Center does not issue parking permits for attending the TA Orientation. You can park in the visitor pay lot located on Carroll Avenue for a fee for the day. Alternatively, you can purchase purchase the appropriate parking permit for the following academic year or semester from Campus Parking Services and use it to park in the parking deck located on Normal Road or any of the approved lots. For more information, visit the Campus Parking Services website here.

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Where can I park to attend the Teaching Assistant Orientation?

If you have purchased a Yellow parking permit, the parking deck on Normal Road is the most convenient parking location since the Teaching Assistant Orientation is held in the Holmes Student Center. If you do not have a parking permit, you can park in the visitor pay lot located on Carroll Avenue for a daily fee. Click here to view a map of all parking lots at NIU's DeKalb campus. For more information, visit the Campus Parking Services website here.

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What food is available during the Teaching Assistant Orientation?

In the morning, refreshments are provided which include coffee, orange juice, water, and a variety of breakfast pastries. Lunch is provided at the Blackhawk Cafeteria. You will be able to select from a salad bar, a taco bar, and a variety of hot items. You can view the menu here

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Will the Teaching Assistant Orientation be filmed so that I can view it later?

No, the Teaching Assistant Orientation will not be filmed. The cost to film the orientation would be too high and, given the location, the quality would be poor. If you can't attend the orientation, you can find the handouts after the event on the Teaching Assistant Resource page. There are also short tutorials that cover similar material available with the handouts.

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Will the Teaching Assistant Orientation handouts be available after the event?

Yes, if the presenters make their handouts and presentation materials available electronically, we will make them available on the Teaching Assistant Resource page after the event.

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Registration

How do I register for the Teaching Assistant Orientation?

Registration will open in July. Return to the Teaching Assistant Orientation site then. You will need your employee A-ID or student Z-ID and password to register. Click here for more information about your ID and password

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I registered, but now I can't attend. How do I cancel my registration?

You may cancel your registration by logging into the event registration system. Due to the expensive nature of the program and the large number of attendees, we would appreciate if you would notify us by the deadline listed on the TAO announcement.

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I won't know whether or not I have a GA appointment until after classes start. Why isn't the Teaching Assistant Orientation scheduled after classes start?

In the past, our Center scheduled the Teaching Assistant Orientation to occur after classes started. However, we received feedback from graduate assistants that it would be more convenient before the semester began. GAs found it difficult to attend the orientation after classes started because of schedule conflicts. We also received feedback that they would like to have the information presented at the Teaching Assistant Orientation before they started teaching or providing teaching-related support. This is why our Center schedules the orientation during the week before classes start and between other programs we schedule for faculty.

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Agenda

What does the Teaching Assistant Orientation cover?

The Teaching Assistant Orientation introduces graduate teaching assistants to basic principles of teaching and related responsibilities that are applicable to all disciplines. Session presenters will also share information about campus support resources.

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I'm a graduate assistant, but I do not teach. Is the Teaching Assistant Orientation relevant to me?

Yes, the Teaching Assistant Orientation is relevant for all graduate assistants at NIU, including graders, tutors, research assistants, and staff assistants. The general sessions will provide valuable information about resources at NIU, and there is a breakout session in the afternoon specifically designed for non-teaching graduate assistants.

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How are the session topics chosen?

The session topics are chosen based on input from academic departments, the Faculty Development Advisory Committee, and feedback from past participants of the Teaching Assistant Orientation. The sessions cover general topics that faculty supervisors would like their graduate assistants to know, regardless of their responsibilities, including topics related to teaching, campus support services, and policies related to teaching and providing teaching-related support.

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Who presents the Teaching Assistant Orientation sessions?

The Teaching Assistant Orientation sessions are presented by faculty, administrators, and staff who have considerable experience and expertise on the various topics covered by the sessions. They volunteer their time and effort to present the sessions and prepare graduate assistants for their responsibilities.

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Why aren't there separate Teaching Assistant Orientation sessions for different departments?

The requirements of being a graduate assistant certainly differ by department, but the majority of the basic information graduate assistants need to be successful is the same, regardless of department or type of assistantship. The Teaching Assistant Orientation is designed to give all graduate assistants an overview of the requirements of being a GA; it is up to individual departments to communicate and train their graduate assistants on their own discipline-specific expectations. Please check with your department for discipline-specific training for graduate assistants.

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Why aren't there hands-on technology sessions at the Teaching Assistant Orientation?

Usually, 170 to 200 graduate assistants attend the Teaching Assistant Orientation, and there is not a computing facility at NIU that seats that many users. Along with computer stations, hands-on technology workshops also require more time (2 to 3 hours per session) and more support staff to help participants during such workshops.

If you are interested in getting more assistance with technology, our Center offers a number of hands-on technology workshops throughout the semester (the current schedule is available here). The Teaching Assistant Orientation sessions are about basic teaching principles and campus support services.

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Certificate of Attendance

What do I get for attending the Teaching Assistant Orientation?

Along with useful information presented at the sessions and opportunities to network with graduate assistants from other disciplines, registered participants will receive orientation materials, refreshments, and a certificate of participation.

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What do I need to do to receive a certificate for attending the Teaching Assistant Orientation?

Certificates of participation are awarded to all graduate assistants who participate in the entire day of programming. Attendance is expected and recorded at the afternoon breakout sessions.

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When will I receive my certificate of participation?

Certificates are mailed directly to your department, usually within a few weeks of the Teaching Assistant Orientation.

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Last Updated: 05/29/2013