Information for Current Graduate Students > Money Matters: Funding Your Education > Teaching Assistantships (TA)
Teaching Assistantships are positions appointed to graduate students in which they will aid with teaching tasks required in a course as outlined by the primary instructor. This may include marking of assignments and examinations, conducting demonstrations and supervising students (if a laboratory component is part of the course), as well as serving as the secondary instructor to some lectures if necessary. Teaching Assistants (TAs) are also expected to promptly respond to students' emails and to retain professionalism at all times in a classroom setting.
For your information, as a graduate student, your positions are titled GTAs (Graduate Teaching Assistantships), as opposed to UTAs (Undergraduate Teaching Assistantships).
When should I start looking for available TAships?
It seems hard to get a TA position in the department; why is that?
Where or how do I apply for TAships?
How do they get allocated? Are there rules?
How else can I get teaching experience?
Positions for the subsequent semester begin to be posted and advertised 3-4 months in advance, and the application window is usually open for about two weeks; thus keep a watchful eye out for listserv emails from the main office regarding the availability of these positions. Specifically to our department, the Graduate Secretary will post Winter GTAs and Sessional Positions approximately at the last week of October or the first week of November, and Fall GTAs and Sessional Positions will be posted at around the first week of April.
When positions open up, refer to the FAQs section in the Sessional TA webpage on how to apply ("Applying to a TA Job").
We have funding for about 25 full TA positions every year, which we split into 50 "half" (70-hour) TAships in order to provide as many opportunities for you as possible. However, there are about 90 of you, and students outside the department can apply for ABS TAships too. Therefore, they are competitive to obtain.
Go to the TA and Sessional Lecturers website (https://www.uoguelph.ca/sessional_ta/teaching-assistant), where you can search for TA positions by department. You will need to make a profile that includes your "seniority points" (i.e. if you have never had a TA position before, you would have 0 points; each TA position is worth 1 point). You can apply for up to four positions at once, and in any department (e.g. Plant Agriculture, Population Medicine, etc. regularly advertise TAships that ABSc students may be qualified for).
If you are applying to positions in more than one department, or that are vastly different in their requirements, then it is a good idea to fill out more than one application because your answers to the long answer questions should be specific to each position and its "required" & "preferred" qualifications (see below).
Since TA employees are part of a union (CUPE) and a collective agreement is in place, there are strict rules about how they are allocated (the rules for 2013-2016 are posted here: http://cupe3913.on.ca/documents/collective-agreements/)
- For each and every post, students who are still "within program" (e.g. have been an M.Sc student for fewer than 7 semesters, or a Ph.D student for fewer than 10 semesters) get priority.
- Each post should come with clearly specified "required qualifications" (the bare minimum attributes or experience that someone has to have to be awarded this TAship) plus "preferred qualifications" (extra criteria beyond the bare minimum). Your application should clearly state which you have (with evidence). Applicants who are within program, and who have both the required and all of the preferred qualifications, get priority over all other applicants. If there is only one such applicant, they will be awarded the TAship, while if there is more than one, the student with the most "seniority points" will get it. If no candidate has the required and all the preferred qualifications, then the next to be considered will be any that have the required and some of the preferred qualifications. Again, if there is more than one of these, the person with the most seniority points wins. If no candidate has the required and some preferred qualifications, then the next applicants to be considered will be any that have just the minimum qualifications (and again, if there is more than one candidate, the person with the most seniority points wins).
- If no student within the program has even the minimum qualifications, then the professor/instructor will start looking at the students who are outside of the program and follow the same process all over again.
- If you feel that the required qualifications and preferred qualifications aren't sufficiently clear, you should ask for clarification. If you think a hiring process has not followed this procedure, you should talk to Wendy, Rhonda or the Department Chair (followed by CUPE if you're still not happy).
There are other ways to get teaching experience.
- For example, you can offer to give one or more lectures, or parts of lectures, in undergraduate classes. Teaching Support Services also offers great workshops and training programs (http://opened.uoguelph.ca/en/educational-development.asp?_mid_=190), many specifically tailored for graduate students.
- In addition, they have a Graduate Teaching Conference every summer: http://site.opened.uoguelph.ca/gradconf/index.html; a new "peer reviewer" system whereby any teaching/lecturing you do can be monitored by a fellow graduate student who will give you detailed feedback; and
- Furthermore, they are responsible for a teaching course you can take for credit called University Teaching: Theory and Practice that teaches a number of useful skills (it is a pass/fail system and is useful if you plan to remain in academia - they teach you how to write a teaching philosophy statement and develop your teaching dossier). More information can be found by emailing the instructor, Dr. Erin Aspenlieder at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org .
- For more ways to strengthen your teaching and public speaking skills, along with other skills related to professional and/or scholarly development, please visit the Scholarly & Professional Development page on this website.
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