TA Orientation


Nearly every undergraduate student at Hopkins interacts at some point with a TA who functions in an instructional capacity, and many Hopkins TAs are the full-time faculty of the future.  The mission of the TA Training Institute is to enhance the instructional experience of undergraduate students and to introduce Hopkins TAs to good instructional theory and practice.


The Teaching Assistant Training Institute provides formal training for graduate students to assist them in preparing for their teaching assignments both here at Johns Hopkins and for their future academic careers. The program consists of a half-day orientation session for new TAs as well as workshops throughout the year for all graduate students. There is also a formal course to prepare graduate students for academic teaching. The TA Training Institute consists of a Director - Richard Shingles, a Senior Instructional Designer – Macie Hall, and Graduate Teaching Associates. The Institute works with the support of staff members in the Center for Educational Resources, the GRO, graduate liaisons and MSEL staff.


Schedule of TA Orientation

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

8:45 AM - 10:00 AM (Hodson Auditorium)

Opening Remarks
Matthew Roller, Vice-Dean of Graduate Education, KSAS
Ed Scheinerman, Vice Dean of Graduate Education, WSE
Mike Reese, Associate Dean, CER

Academic Assistance for Undergraduates
Jim Fry, Assistant Dean, Academic Advising

Dealing with Students with Disabilities
Brent Mosser, Academic Support & Disability Services

Relating to Your Students
Leslie Leathers, Staff Psychologist, Counseling Center

Ethics and Academic Integrity
John Toscano, Vice-Dean of Science & Research, KSAS

Faculty Expectations of a Teaching Assistant
Richard Shingles, Director, TA Training Institute

10:15 AM - 10:45 AM
"Preparing for the first day"

A1. Preparing for the First Day: Humanities and Social Sciences (Hodson 213)

A2. Preparing for the First Day: Engineering (Hodson 311)

A3. Preparing for the First Day: Sciences (Hodson 210)

10:50 AM - 11:20 AM
"Supporting a course"

B1. Support for International TAs (Hodson 316)
This workshop will address issues of specific concern to international TAs and review sources of support for increasing effective communication and cross-cultural understanding.

B2. Leading Discussions (Hodson 213)
This workshop will help participants identify strategies for fostering productive class discussions, such as how to ask questions effectively, engage reticent students, and manage challenges that typically arise in the course of discussions.

B3. Leading Labs: Sciences and Engineering  (Hodson 210)
This workshop will instruct TAs on how to create experiential learning environments in laboratories, including attention to common procedures and various instructional styles. We will also address responsibilities, preparation, teaching techniques, engaging students, common difficulties and misunderstandings, leading discussions, problem solving, data issues, and using the blackboard.

B4. Active Learning in Practice (Hodson 301)
Come and experience live Active Learning Exercises (ALEs). Find out about tips and tools used in ALEs and how to manage an active classroom.

11:30 AM - Noon
"Evaluating a course"

C1. Using Blackboard (Hodson 210)
This workshop will introduce TAs to BLACKBOARD, which is available for every course. An explanation of the various tools and functions of Blackboard that may be useful in TA-led sessions will be given. TAs will be shown the communication tools available and how to use the Gradebook.

C2. Evaluating Writing Assignments (Hodson 311)
This workshop will cover the use of rubrics for consistent grading and ways of providing constructive feedback when assessing writing assignments. Fostering correct citation skills and detecting plagiarism will be addressed, and resources for students who need assistance with their writing will be identified.

C3. The Art of Problem Solving Instruction (Hodson 305)
This session will be most applicable to TA’s leading sections involving a lot of problem solving. Learn how to conduct such sessions, identify student difficulties and how to evaluate students.

C4. Grading STEM classes (Hodson 301)
The STEM TA's most vexing duty is grading problems, and the unprepared are far more likely to make mistakes. Learn tips to grading professionally: the right philosophy and a robust rubric will save you time and safeguard your sanity.

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM (Hodson Lobby)

D1. Teaching with Technology
An overview of the resources and services offered by the Center for Educational Resources (CER).

Blackboard - Amy Brusini
Cloud Storage - Mike Reese
Turnitin - Brian Cole

D2. Teaching with Library Resources
Find out what resources for teaching and learning are available from the library.

- Academic Liaison MSEL

D3. Tips & Tricks
Worried about not knowing how to answer a question? Concerned about public speaking? Don’t know how to manage a class? Scared of being inadequately prepared? Come to the Tips & Tricks booth to talk to “seasoned” faculty and TAs about concerns you have for your class.


Resources for Teaching Assistants

Teaching Assistant Manual
The TA Training Institute has developed a manual for TAs called “Making the Difference.” The manual lists general teaching resources available at Hopkins – e.g., TA-specific services offered by the library, services offered to students with disabilities, faculty responsibilities in working with such students, etc. Printed copies of the TA Manual are distributed at the TA Orientation in September and are available from the CER throughout the year.

Teaching Assistant Training Videos


CER has worked with the GRO to ensure its members are informed of all changes to the TA Training program. CER has met with the GRO board to discuss items to go into a TA Training section of the Graduate Student Portal. The GRO website links to the CER website, which in turn, links to TA Training. The GRO also distributes TA training-related information through its list-serv.