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TA conversation during orientation

Fall 2017 Teaching Assistant Orientation

Tuesday, August 22, 2017
8:00 am to 3:30 pm
Duke Ellington Ballroom, Holmes Student Center


Registration will open in July
Questions? View our FAQ

Overview

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.

Tentative Orientation Schedule

8:00 am - 11:50 am GENERAL SESSIONS
11:50 am - 1:00 pm LUNCH
1:00 pm - 3:15 pm BREAKOUT SESSIONS
3:15 pm - 3:30 pm CLOSING

Registration will open in July.

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 teaching 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions? View answers to commonly asked questions below.


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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. Learn more about the Graduate Teaching Certificate.

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..

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.

No, parking permits are not issued 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 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.

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. View a map of all parking lots at NIU's DeKalb campus. For more information, visit the Campus Parking Services website.

In the morning, refreshments are provided which include coffee, orange juice, water, and a variety of breakfast pastries. Lunch is provided at the Neptune Dining Hall. You will be able to select from a variety of hot foods and a salad bar.

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.

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 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. Learn more about your ID and password

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.

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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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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, a number of hands-on technology workshops are available 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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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.

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. You will also need to complete the survey.

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