Building KU's Teaching and Learning Community


GTAs are a vital component of the academic community at KU. This page contains information on CTE’s New GTA Orientation, which takes place at the commencement of both the fall and spring semesters, GTA Tutorial Resources, Teaching the ‘Whole Student,’ the GTA Workshop Series, CTE’s GTA Teaching Development Group, as well as our Graduate Seminar Modules.

New GTA Orientation

Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) play an integral role as instructors at the University of Kansas (KU). The New GTA Orientation is designed to prepare new GTAs for their instructor roles at KU. All new GTAs must complete a mandatory New GTA Orientation offered by the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) or an approved alternative New GTA Orientation offered by their hiring department. Information on the dates and locations for the upcoming CTE New GTA Orientation can be in the table below with more details available in the New GTA Orientation Flyer.

New GTA Orientation Requirement

Complete by



Policy Tutorial

January 16

January 3


Conference Sessions and Modules

Welcome Session*

January 10, 8:30 - 10 AM CT


Attend via Zoom

Essential Modules

January 10

January 3


Applying Principles of Effective and Equitable Teaching Discussion Session*

January 10, 1:00 - 2:30 PM CT


Attend via Zoom or in person (Wescoe Hall)

Breakout Modules

January 20

January 10


Follow-up Session

March 10

Register on January 23

Attend in person (@CTE; 135 Budig Hall)

*Synchronous sessions that need to be completed by attending at the specified date and time. Spring 2023 synchronous sessions are scheduled for Tuesday, January 10. 

All first-time GTAs must complete all components of the New GTA Orientation during their first semester of teaching. The. CTE Orientation consists of three components (1. New GTA Policy Tutorial, 2. CTE Conference, and 3. New GTA Follow-up Session). Find more details about the CTE New GTA Orientation and departments that have approved alternative orientations below.

1. New GTA Policy Tutorial:

The goal of the Policy Tutorial is to introduce and familiarize new GTAs with KU policies and procedures as they relate to their duties as a GTA. The Policy Tutorial covers four broad topics: Privacy and Disability, Consenting Relationships and Sexual Harassment, Professional Expectations, and Academic Integrity.

  • All new GTAs must complete the Policy Tutorial, regardless of where they complete the conference and follow-up session (CTE Conference and New GTA Follow-up Session or approved alternative departmental orientation).
  • New GTAs will receive information about accessing and completing the Policy Tutorial two weeks before the first day of class.
  • To complete the Policy Tutorial, new GTAs must achieve a score of 100% on the Policy Tutorial no later than the first day of class.

The policies, procedures, and other resources linked to during the Policy Tutorial have been compiled into a New GTA Tutorial Resource Document that you can access here and within the Canvas course. Please note that any of the policies referenced can be found in KU's Policy Library. The University of Kansas Policy Library is the repository for all policies and policy-related documents at the University of Kansas.

2. CTE Conference and Approved Alternative GTA Orientations:

CTE Conference

The goal of the CTE Conference is to introduce new GTAs to best practices and provide examples of excellence in teaching. The CTE Conference is comprised of two synchronous sessions and a series of asynchronous modules available through Canvas. To complete the conference, new GTAs should attend the two conference sessions, complete the two essential modules, and complete three breakout modules of their choice. See more details about the sessions and modules below.

Synchronous Conference Sessions

New GTAs will attend two synchronous conference sessions (either in-person or via Zoom) a week before classes start.

1. Welcome Session. During this session, the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) and Graduate Studies will welcome new GTAs to their new position and discuss resources that are available to them, what it means to be a GTA, and how redefining teaching can supercharge learning. There will be time to answer questions.

2. Discussion Session. During this session, GTAs will have the opportunity to talk with an experienced faculty member (and peers) about the content of the Essential Modules and how to apply the content in their own teaching.

Asynchronous Modules

GTAs will complete five modules through Canvas.

Essential Modules
  • The goal of the Essential Modules (Evaluating Student Learning, Creating an Inclusive and Engaging Climate for ALL Your Students) is to provide GTAs with an overview of best practices of teaching.
  • Essential Modules will be available 1 week before the synchronous conference sessions and will prepare new GTAs for the Discussion Session.
  • These modules should be completed before attending the Discussion Session.
Breakout Modules
  • The goal of the Breakout Modules is to provide you with an overview of best practices of teaching based on your specific role.
  • GTAs are required to complete three breakout modules. New GTAs can choose from several topics for the modules, including Guiding Discussions, Guiding Necessary Conversation in the Classroom about Systemic Difference, Lecturing, Teaching in a Science Lab, Problem Solving in the Technical Classroom, and Teaching in the U.S.: What to Expect as an International GTA.
  • Modules will be available a week before the semester starts and should be completed the first week of the semester.

Alternative Orientation

GTAs in some departments are exempt from the CTE Conference and the New GTA Follow-up Session (described below). New GTAs in the departments of Communication Studies, French & Italian, English, Geology, and Physics and Astronomy should complete the Policy Tutorial above and an approved alternative orientation provided by their department instead of the CTE Conference and New GTA Follow-up Session offered by the Center for Teaching Excellence. GTAs in all other departments must complete all three requirements (Policy Tutorial, Conference, and Follow-up Session) in addition to any departmental training sessions required by their hiring departments. In either case, students must complete their mandatory training by the end of their second full month of working as GTAs. See the table below for the requirements of departments that have exemptions.

GTAs in the departments (below) need to complete:

Policy Tutorial

CTE Conference

Orientation in the hiring department

CTE Follow-up Session






Communication Studies










French & Italian


Spring only

Fall only

Spring only



Spring only

Fall only

Spring only

Physics & Astronomy





3. New GTA Follow-up Session

The goal of the Follow-up Session is to provide GTAs with an opportunity to discuss challenges they may be facing and to develop a plan to make any adjustments that might be needed to improve student learning.

  • Follow-up Sessions are 1-hour sessions and will be held during weeks 5–8 of the Fall and Spring semesters.
  • Session registration will be available during the fourth week of the semester.
  • To complete this component of the orientation, GTAs must register for and attend one session of their choice.

Direct any questions about New GTA Orientation to Kaila Colyott at

Checklist for completing all of the CTE New GTA Requirements

  • Achieve a score of 100% on all four Policy Tutorial quizzes in Canvas
  • Attend the Conference Welcome Session
  • Complete two Conference Essential Modules in Canvas
  • Attend the Conference Discussion Session
  • Complete three Conference Breakout Modules of your choice in Canvas
  • Attend a one-hour Follow-up Session

GTA Tutorial Resources

The GTA Tutorial Resources are available to new GTAs prior to their first-semester teaching as part of the New GTA Training. The resources link you to the information you will need to understand as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) at the University of Kansas. The resources are organized into four major segments: Privacy and Disability Information, Consenting Relationships and Sexual Harassment, Professional Expectations, and Academic Integrity.

The Privacy and Disability segment of the resources covers the handling of student information including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the privacy, confidentiality & release of student records. This segment also covers student disabilities. The Consenting Relationships and Sexual Harassment segment of the resources cover information related to sexual harassment and consenting relationships. The Professional Expectations segment of the resources addresses anticipated and unanticipated GTA absences, campus emergencies, and evacuation of buildings during exams. Additional topics include warning signs & reactions to workplace violence, as well as the presence of weapons on campus. Also briefly covered under this topic is inclusive teaching practices. The Academic Integrity segment covers cheating, plagiarism, disruptive class behavior & other academic and scholarly misconduct.

Teaching the ‘Whole Student’

The Teaching the ‘Whole Student’ Resources will direct you to resources on campus that might be useful to you as you progress through your graduate program or may be helpful for your students. Recognizing ourselves and our students as a ‘whole’ individual with needs and values beyond those that appear in the classroom will help us build a community of committed and connected learners. These resources include counseling & mental health services, career planning, child care & parenting, support for international, LGBTQ, and students of color, and financial assistance.

GTA Coffee/Tea Hour [Coming back Spring 2023]

Would you like to get together with other GTAs and discuss teaching? Is there something you are hoping to improve about your teaching? Perhaps there is something that is going really well and you want to continue building on that success? Join us for coffee, tea, or your beverage of choice to chat informally about teaching. Dates and times TBD

Want to discuss something specific about your teaching but can't make it to these sessions? Email Kaila Colyott to schedule a one-on-one consultation. 

Academic Job Search Workshop Series [Coming back Spring 2023]

The Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) will host an Academic Job Search Workshop Series for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in Spring 2023. The workshops in this series will guide attendees in the preparation of four elements of the academic job portfolio that require reflection about teaching. See below for the workshop topics; schedule TBD. 

1. Writing a Reflective Teaching Statement. 

2. Curating Your Teaching Portfolio. 

3. Writing a Diversity Statement. 

4. Preparing a Teaching Demonstration. 

Graduate Seminar Modules

In the past, CTE has hosted a course on ‘Being an Effective College Teacher’ that combined seminar and practicum to guide graduate students in planning, delivering, and evaluating college level instruction. Because the topics of this course are so important to the mission of the Center for Teaching Excellence, we wanted to make the course as widely available as possible. In order to reach this goal, we split the course into modules that can be worked through on their own. You may pick and choose a few modules to create your own course on teaching; using whatever magic mixture of modules that will help you reach your goals. Ideally, you would work through the modules in a group, formally or informally, as many of the materials and activities rely on sharing experiences as teachers and learners, helping each other solve problems.

Teaching revolves around learning. Therefore, a course about teaching must focus on learning about learning. The modules will cover more than learning, but learning will be central, both in terms of how you can help your students and also how teaching itself is really about learning.

Modules available through this course will provide many practical skills to help you prepare, teach, and evaluate your courses. The modules have been prepared to help you prepare good assignments, assess student work, work with difficult students, use class time effectively, and prepare for a teaching career. Some material will allow you to delve into theories, while others will guide you through the practicalities of teaching and learning.

The course is rooted in the Center for Teaching Excellence philosophy of teaching as an intellectual and scholarly activity, and it draws heavily on approaches that have proved effective for learners of all types. Teaching is a privilege, a position of trust and responsibility that we cannot take lightly. It is an opportunity, a vocation that helps shape minds and influence lives. It is also a job that requires much thought and much hard work. This course pays homage to all of those roles and will guide the participants to learn more about teaching, learning, and the interaction between them.

All readings are provided in this Blackboard course except for the chapters out of How Learning Works by Susan Ambrose, Michael Bridges, Michele DiPietro, Marsha Lovett, and Marie Norman (published by Jossey-Bass in 2010). The book organizes research on teaching and learning into seven principles in order to "provide instructors with an understanding of student learning that can help them (a) see why certain teaching approaches are or are not supporting students’ learning, (b) generate or refine teaching approaches and strategies that more effectively foster student learning in specific contexts, and (c) transfer and apply these principles to new courses." - Review from the LessWrong Blog

We highly suggest that students purchase and use this book. It is the best synthesis of learning that we have been able to find and is a great investment for anyone that is interested in teaching and learning. If purchasing the book is not an option, there may be a few copies available at the KU library or a few available for a two-week checkout period from the Center for Teaching Excellence.

Modules include:

  • What is good teaching?
  • How do we learn?
  • How do we approach teaching as scholarship?
  • How do we motivate students?
  • How do we design effective courses and assignments?
  • How do we evaluate student learning?
  • How do we create an inclusive learning environment?
  • How do we use class time effectively?
  • How do we use out-of-class time effectively?
  • How do we document our teaching?

Modules are now available via Canvas. 

If you would like to request access via Canvas, please email Kaila Colyott at with a short summary of how you plan to use the materials (small group, seminar, etc.).

There are 14 weeks of material that can be used as a course, or topics can be chosen and taught in isolation. 

Consultations [Available by Appointment]

Are you looking for help with teaching? Do you have an idea for a workshop that you think would be beneficial to you and other GTAs? Would you like help on writing a teaching philosophy statement but cannot make it to a scheduled workshop? Are you looking for some guidance on dealing with difficult students but missed the workshop? Perhaps you’d just like to chat about teaching in general or get some help looking for ways to develop professionally as an GTA? 

Email Kaila Colyott at to schedule an appointment or with a workshop idea.

GTA Essential Guide to Teaching

GTA Essential Guide to Teaching


This guide offers a range of teaching practices and policies, with the major difference being that this guide is designed for GTAs. At CTE, we understand that graduate students often carry a large responsibility in regard to teaching and assisting professors, and we hope this guide functions as a useful, helpful resource for GTAs at KU.


Full PDF:

A GTA's Essential Guide to Teaching at KU


Bernstein Award for Future Faculty

The Bernstein Award for Future Faculty recognizes KU graduate students who have approached their teaching as inquiry into learning. Every spring, this monetary award will honor one graduate student who is pursuing a career in academia.

Please visit this page early in the Spring Semester for the official Call for Applications and information regarding application deadlines.


An applicant must be a doctoral candidate who has passed the comprehensive exam and is in good standing in a program based on the Lawrence campus. Each applicant must have had at least two semesters with significant teaching responsibilities as a graduate student at KU. Please note that the award is designed to honor a graduate student who will graduate within the calendar year of the semester in which they receive the award.

Application Process:

Submit a 1,000-word (maximum) application. In a brief introductory statement, indicate where you are in your graduate program and what your plans are after you graduate. Describe how you have been involved with teaching work within your department or more broadly. The rest of your application should focus on one course you taught at KU and address these points:

  1. Identify the context in which you taught the course.
  2. Describe a major learning goal you focused on for the students in that course, and why.
  3. What approaches and assignment(s) did you use to accomplish that goal?
  4. What did you learn from student performance on the assignments, and how will you modify the course in the future?

Applicants must also include a letter from a faculty member who is familiar with the applicant’s teaching. The faculty member should address the applicant’s role in the course and the quality of work described in the application, rather than a testimonial.

Members of the advisory board for the Center for Teaching Excellence will review the applications and identify the award recipient near the end of the Spring Semester.

About the Award:

The Bernstein Award for Future Faculty was established in 2014 in honor of Dan Bernstein, who served as CTE’s director for 12 years. The award is funded through the KU Endowment Association.

Past Winners:

  • 2019: Andrea Gomez Cervantes
  • 2018: Ashley Palmer, Aaron Long
  • 2017: Rebekah Taussig, Carolina Costa Candal
  • 2016: Amanda Sladek, Claire Gravelin
  • 2015: Rebecca Achen


Contact Judy Eddy, Center for Teaching Excellence, at

Past Offerings

Past GTA Workshop or Session Offerings

Generate a Teaching Statement. In this extended (1.5-hour) workshop, we will use a Generative Knowledge Interviewing (GKI) hybrid method to get you started writing your teaching statement. Participants of this workshop will write and share stories in response to provided prompts. Everyone will leave with content and an idea of how to structure your own teaching philosophy statement. A rubric created through a survey of 457 job search committees will be provided to help guide you while writing your statement after the workshop. Accountability will also be available, if you’d like to sign up for a day to send and get feedback on your drafted statement.

Designing a Course Assignment/Activity. In this extended (1.5-hour) workshop, everyone will spend time planning a course activity/assignment from the learning goal to the assessment of learning. Participants of this workshop will plan a course activity/assignment for a course they will be teaching or hope to teach in the future. The activity/assignment can be something you hope to implement at KU or for a teaching portfolio you will use when applying for jobs or fellowships. We will spend some time discussing best practices for writing learning goals, choosing teaching methodologies, and planning assessment that align. We will then give you time to apply these practices in your own course activity/assignment design.

Research in Small Bites: Incorporating research skills into your classes. Incorporating undergraduate research into classes allows students to encounter course content in an authentic setting and develop students’ higher-order thinking skills. There are lots of ways that you can work specific research skills into your discussion sections, lab sections, and courses that you teach as a GTA. In this workshop, Nikki Perry from the Center for Undergraduate Research will walk you through some activities to think about which parts of the research process might be a good fit for your class and generate ideas for how you might structure activities and assignments to work on those skills.

Navigating Conflicts with Students. What should you do if a student in your class makes inappropriate comments during a lecture about a sensitive topic? How do you deal with a student who is constantly disruptive or dominates the class discussion? In this session, led by Kaila Colyott, we will discuss negotiation strategies that you can use to facilitate conflict resolution in the classroom.

Be an Active Bystander: Gender Based Violence Recognition and Response. We have invited the experts from the KU Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center to discuss Gender Based Violence and how it intersects with your duties as a GTA. Gender Based Violence (GBV) is a broad and overwhelming topic. This foundational training will break down the definition of GBV, the KU Policy relating to sexual harassment, and resource options. Participants will gain a working knowledge of what GBV is and how it intersects with their daily lives and an increased understanding of the systems in place to respond to sexual violence on and off campus.

Intercultural Competency in the Classroom. Developing intercultural competence is an essential part of teaching. This session will include tools and strategies for successful communication and global awareness in an international classroom. You will discuss empathy, cultural understanding and moving beyond stereotypes, among other topics with Alison Watkins, Intercultural Learning Coordinator.

Past Book Club/Development Group Offerings

Spring 2019

Two major goals of the Teaching Development Group were 1) to provide a venue to discuss teaching experiences with other GTAs from across campus to learn from each other 2) to explore and discuss best practices for inclusive teaching and pedagogical strategies and tips for teaching about privilege in the classroom. To this end, we discussed setting and holding boundaries for class discussions, creating inclusive syllabi, and writing teaching and diversity statements. We also read and critiqued a few chapters from Deconstructing Privilege.

Fall 2018

We read Small Teaching by James M. Lang. The book employs cognitive theory in the everyday classroom and presents strategies that can be put into practice in a single class period to improve student learning.