Connecting With Other GA/TAs

On June 29, 2014, in Being a GA/TA, GATAcademy, Monday Motivation, by gregorynpaziuk

Every Monday from April to June, the GATA Network has been sharing advice on how to make your summer productive. In our final post of the series, we discuss ways to connect with your fellow GA/TAs.

Teamwork and collaboration: we here at the GATA Network are on about those ideas all the time. As a result, the phrase “building a sense of community” gets thrown around this blog a lot. We use it to refer to the feeling we want our students to have in our classrooms. We also use it to refer to the connections we make with our fellow instructors. The point in both is to recognize that there is a social element to the the learning process and even scholarship in general. And while we may be running out of creative ways to say “No scholar is an island”, that doesn’t mean it’s any less true.

More on communities:

Sometimes teaching can be just about as lonely, isolating, and thankless as those angsty teenage years we like to forget ever happened. Before the stress of student-teacher life becomes debilitating, reach out to one of the many supports available to you here at UWindsor. Chances are you’re not the only one with questions, concerns, frustrations, etc.

Connections Matter

Teaching and learning are largely driven by communities of practice. That is to say that what we do in the classroom and even in our self-directed learning is highly influenced by what’s worked for others before us. As more and more emphasis is placed on student-centred learning and more and more research is done on identifying student learning outcomes, the need to share best practices has intensified in higher education. One of the benefits, then, of reaching out to fellow teachers/student teachers/students is that it strengthens our understanding of what we are doing well to facilitate learning in universities.

The other benefit of connecting to your local and global learning communities that is alluded to above is strictly humanitarian. The myths of the “Sage on the Stage” and the solitary genius have seemingly made it unthinkable that a teacher or student teacher might need some help now and then. That’s just silly. We all could use a helping hand or an attentive ear now and then, especially when it comes to difficulties in our work.

Not all of us are social butterflies. That’s okay. There are lots of ways to get involved in teaching and learning communities of all types and sizes.

Attend FGS GA/TA Orientation

Every Fall Semester, the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) hosts a crash-course information session for new Graduate Assistants and Teaching Assistants. The GA/TA Orientation usually includes overviews of the university’s GA/TA policies, an introduction from GA/TA union representatives, and short presentations from some of the other student support service groups on campus. This year’s event will take place on September 3rd from 3pm-5pm in Erie Hall 1120. Visit the FGS website for more updates as they become available.

Save the Date for GATAcademy

If your planning to attend the FGS’s orientation, and you really should be, then you should also attend as many workshops as possible at GATAcademy. Also taking place on September 3rd from 9am-2:30pm, GATAcademy is an entire day of personal and professional development workshops designed especially for GAs and TAs, for whom registration is  100% FREE. So there’s no cost for GA/TAs to participate, and it’s entirely up to you how many workshops you attend. Learn about teaching with technology in the classroom, how to run labs and tutorials, the differences to consider when teaching to different cultures, and so on. GATAcademy is also a great opportunity to network with fellow GA/TAs and build your own peer support group. All that and a FREE lunch. Make sure you register for this event.

You may have also noticed our call for volunteers. Whether you’ve been to the event before or this is your first time, volunteering is an opportunity to experience GATAcademy from behind the scenes while also learning and sharing with your fellow GA/TAs.

GATA Learning Communities

Imagine a weekly support group where you and your fellow GA/TAs meet to discuss the issues your facing in your classrooms and swap strategies to overcome them. The GATA Network and the Centre for Teaching and Learning can help you make that happen. The Network will meet regularly with GATA Learning Communities anywhere on campus, whether it’s to brush up on a specific aspect of teaching or just to discuss the challenges of everyday student-teaching. Contact us at to set up a learning community for you and your colleagues.

Other Communities

There are many other groups on campus that aren’t exclusively for GA/TA teaching development, but they can provide support, training, and even the chance to mentor others.

You can also find more opportunities to meet, share, and learn with your GA/TA cohort at the Centre for Teaching and Learning.


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