10 Things I Love About GATAcademy

On August 22, 2014, in Announcements, Being a GA/TA, GATAcademy, by gregorynpaziuk

This post was originally posted in August 2013. Don’t forget to register for GATAcademy 2014!

Greg here. Just contemplating the upcoming GATAcademy festivities and reminiscing a little. It’s hard to believe that this will be my third fourth time attending this event. Part of me feels old, but mostly I feel fortunate to be part of something so worthwhile. I thought I’d share with you the ten things I love most about GATAcademy, in no particular order. Enjoy!

1.) The Buttons – Over the last few years, the GATA Network has put together some world-class buttons. A lot of these buttons have been made with the help of GAs and TAs like you, especially through our contest last fall. And who doesn’t appreciate a good button?

2.) Seeing New Tech In Action – The presenters at GATAcademy know their way around a computer console. The first time I taught, I had to have a student show me how to work the equipment in my room. Had I spent more time in workshops on teaching with technology, I might have saved a little face.

3.) The Free Food – Because I’m human. Also because a lunch break at a personal/professional development event with 200+ potential colleagues is the most massive business lunch/networking exercise I’ve ever heard of.

4.) The Icebreakers – Frankly, before my first GATAcademy, I didn’t know there were so many creative ways to introduce people to each other. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t used some of the icebreakers I learned from GATAcademy in my own courses.

5.) The Q&A (&Q&Q&Q…) – Remember that time in class when you didn’t understand the problem on the blackboard but didn’t want to be the one to ask for clarification? And remember how good it felt when someone else asked the question instead, and you realized you weren’t the only one who didn’t understand? I can’t count how many times this scenario played out at the first GATAcademy I attended.

6.) The Variety – This is something I hate-to-love because it makes choosing just one workshop per session so difficult. It’s nice to see workshops that cover everything from assessment to how to handle conflict in the classroom (because let’s none of us pretend we haven’t dreaded the confrontation with an unhappy student). It helps to bring a buddy (or make a friend) who can attend the workshops you miss so that you can compare notes.

7.) The Collective Sigh – It never fails that the tension and anxiety that is palpable from the moment participants walk in the doors in the morning gradually subsides over the course of the day. Nine times out of ten, students leave GATAcademy more confident than when they arrived. I know because I’ve been one of the nine.

8.) The Connections – Before I attended GATAcademy, I had no idea about what sorts of resources were available to GAs and TAs. My department and my advisor did an excellent job of providing me the basics of what to do and how to do it, but GATAcademy introduced me to groups like the Centre for Teaching and Learning and the GATA Network. It helps to have a whole arsenal of resources at your disposal to prepare you for every possibility.

9.) The Handouts – These have become my unofficial textbook to teaching. Everything I’ve been given from GATAcademy over the years is kept in a folder that I revisit regularly.

10.) Making New Friends – Sometimes being a grad student can feel like being the last of your kind in a zoo on a distant planet galaxies away from home. Don’t underestimate the importance of making new friends.