Over the next two days, 697 students will participate in Phase I of the GTA workshop at Virginia Tech. This workshop is a mandatory (pass/fail) course that is required of all new GTAs. Its purposes have always been to (1) provide the new GTAs with recommendations and advice from dedicated faculty, staff, and experienced graduate students about their new role and (2) assist them in developing their base knowledge and skills as effective teachers or career professionals.
Whether assigned as an instructor of record, a lab assistant, a grader or in any other role, a GTA plays an important role in the advancement of the knowledge of their students. GTAs are expected to engage students in the learning process, provide them with advice on how to improve their academic performance, and assess the state or level of their knowledge. A part of the GTA workshop is concerned with the development of interactive and inclusive pedagogic practices that can be helpful for the GTAs in meeting their objectives.
The above opportunities/responsibilities come with a potential for creating conflict. A GTA could influence a student’s assessment, interest in the course material, and possibly their behavior. A GTA is expected to behave ethically.
Federal law (FERPA) protects the privacy of the education records of students. GTAs are expected to learn of this law and how to make sure that such records are protected.
GTAs have the obligation to create a safe learning environment for all students and should be sensitive to the varied backgrounds and needs of their students.
Continuous improvement of soft skills is very important for the success of GTAs.
This year two new sessions are introduced. In the first session, a group of students will work on the identification of implicit bias and privilege and ways to address them and minimize their impact on the GTA’s teaching mission and the learning experience of their students. In another session, experienced graduate students will give tips to new GTAs on practicing excellence and leadership in their GTA assignment.
The above two new sessions along with over fifty five other sessions on a multitude of topics will hopefully meet the objectives of the GTA workshop in assisting the new GTAs in their quest to successfully meet the expectations from their new role and develop as effective professors or career professionals.