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New GTA Orientation
Graduate Teaching Assistants play an integral role as instructors at the University of Kansas. The New GTA Orientation is intended 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 or an approved alternative New GTA Orientation offered by their hiring department. Information on the date and location for the upcoming CTE-led orientation can be found below.
All first-time GTAs must complete their new GTA training during their first semester of teaching. The CTE New GTA Orientation consists of three components:
1. New GTA Policy Tutorial
2. New GTA Conference Modules and Sessions
3. New GTA Follow-up Session
Find more details about the CTE New GTA Orientation and departments that have approved alternative orientations below.
The Fall 2023 New GTA Orientation Conference Sessions will be held on August 15th, 2023. New GTAs are required to attend the synchronous sessions listed below.
8:30 - 10:00 am Welcome Session (facilitated via Zoom)
1:00 - 2:30 pm Discussion Session (facilitated in-person or via Zoom; new GTAs will get to choose how to attend this interactive session)
3:00 - 3:30 pm Info Session (hosted via Zoom)
Online Canvas modules will be made available on August 7th.
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.
- New GTAs must score 100% on the Policy Tutorial components no later than the first day of class.
The policies, procedures and other resources linked in the Policy Tutorial have been compiled into a New GTA Tutorial Resource Document(.docx), which you can access on the CTE website or 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.
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 composed 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.
- Welcome Session. During this session, the Center for Teaching Excellence 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.
- Discussion Session. During this session, GTAs will have 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.
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 one 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.
GTAs in some departments are exempt from the CTE Conference and the CTE New GTA Follow-up Session (described below). New GTAs in the departments of Chemistry, Communication Studies, English, French, Francophone & Italian Studies, Geology, and Physics and Astronomy should complete the Policy Tutorial above and an approved alternative orientation provided by their department. 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. 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:
Orientation in the hiring department
CTE Follow-up Session
French, Francophone & Italian Studies
GTAs have access to CTE modules
GTAs have access to CTE option
GTAs have access to CTE modules
Physics & Astronomy
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 an hour long and will be held during weeks five through eight 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Score 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
Professional Development Opportunities & Workshops
Practical skills to help you prepare you to teach and to evaluate your teaching
The modules in this graduate seminar will help you prepare good assignments, assess student work, work with difficult students, use class time effectively, and prepare for a teaching career. The modules will offer you an opportunity to delve into pedagogical theories as well as guide you through the practicalities of teaching and learning.
There are 14 weeks of material that can be used as a course, or topics can be chosen and discussed in isolation. The modules can be worked through independently or in a group, informally or formally. Ideally, you would work through the modules with others, as many of the materials and activities rely on sharing experiences as teachers and learners, and helping each other solve problems.
If you would like to request access via Canvas, please email Kaila Colyott at KColyott@KU.edu with a short summary of how you plan to use the materials (small group, seminar, etc.).
The course is rooted in the 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 helps participants learn more about teaching, learning, and the interaction between them.
All readings are provided in this Canvas 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). 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 interested in teaching and learning. If purchasing the book is not an option, copies are available for checkout at KU Libraries or from the CTE.
- 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?
CTE staff members are available to consult with graduate students on any topics related to teaching and learning.
Classroom practice. We are happy to meet with you about specific situations that arise in your class, whether you would like to learn more about lesson planning, discussion leading, classroom dynamics, or to discuss particular challenges.
Teaching and the job market. If you are a job candidate and would like feedback on your teaching statement, diversity statement, teaching portfolio or teaching demonstration, we encourage you to join our workshop series (offered every spring; see Workshops) and to read our online resources, Planning for an Academic Job Search.
Email Kaila Colyott at KColyott@KU.edu to schedule an appointment to discuss classroom practice, to review your teaching related job market materials, or to chat about teaching in general.
Planning for an Academic Job Search
Download the Teaching Statement Reflective Guide (.docx) as a Word document or create your own copy of the guide as a Google document.
- Is a narrative that includes your conception of teaching and learning, a description of how you teach, and justification for why you teach that way.
- Demonstrates that you have been reflective and purposeful about your teaching.
- Communicates your goals as an instructor and your corresponding actions in the classroom.
- Provides an opportunity to point to and tie together the other sections of your job portfolio (i.e., other teaching documents, teaching or awards section of CV).
- Provides the reader a window into your class.
Pulled from: Cornell University Graduate School. Teaching Philosophy Statement.
- No required content or set format
- Generally 1 to 2 pages, single spaced (2-page limit unless otherwise specified)
- Use present tense in most cases
- Avoid technical terms and always describe what specifically you mean when using broad teaching terms: critical thinking; active learning; diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Include teaching strategies and methods to help people “see” you in the classroom
- Make it memorable and unique
- “Own” your philosophy (i.e., “I use X pedagogy to reach Y goal in my courses” instead of “The use of X pedagogy is the only way to reach Y goal.”)
Pulled from: Michael V. Drake Institute for Teaching and Learning. Philosophy of Teaching Statement.
- Begin with the ending. Articulate the precise skills students will gain in your courses and the reasons those skills are important in the discipline.
- Make distinctions. You will likely find yourself teaching two kinds of courses (those aimed at majors that draw upon your research and those that fulfill core requirements for graduation that your department must offer). Discuss how your objectives and approaches vary in these two types of courses. Or how they will vary depending on the students you will teach.
- Be specific. Describe your teaching objectives and then tell a story or two about how your objectives play out in the classroom. The story may focus on an enlightening moment, or a moment of failure that led you to develop new teaching methods. Or focus in detail about a creative strategy you use in the classroom.
- Cite your sources. Whatever the source (your own experience as an undergrad, a mentor, a book or article) it reflects well on you to explain how and why you developed your teaching principles.
Pulled from: Lang, J.M. (2010, August 29). 4 Steps to a Memorable Teaching Philosophy. The Chronicle of Higher Education.
- Even if you have not had the opportunity to create the syllabus, you should draw upon your experiences as teaching assistant (e.g., how do you communicate expectations, what teaching methods do you employ in labs/discussions/office hours and why, how do you assess student learning through grading/reflections/providing feedback)
- Think of other transferable experiences like tutoring, coaching, or mentoring that illustrate what you would be like as a teacher. How do these experiences inform what you will do in the class? Why? What experiences do you have to draw from to demonstrate these skills? Never say you lack teaching experience.
- If you have time, seek out teaching-related opportunities, such as giving guest lectures or mentoring junior colleagues.
- If you really have no teaching experience (and even if you do), imagine and describe what you will be like as a teacher, propose courses that you could teach, and provide concrete techniques that you will employ in the classroom. Use your experiences as a learner to create an image of who you want to be as an instructor, and rely on scholarship about learning and disciple-based education research in your field.
Pulled from: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center. Teaching Statements.
This rubric is based on data collected from a survey of 457 search committee chairs across many disciplines. The survey found there was broad agreement among chairs about the desirable characteristics of a teaching statement. The five dimensions of the rubric were created using the characteristics chairs described for successful teaching statements.
O’Neal, C., Meizlish, D., & Kaplan, M. (2007). Writing a statement of teaching philosophy for the academic job search (pdf). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan.
|Categories||Excellent||Needs some revision||Unsatisfactory|
Goals for student learning:
What knowledge, skills, and attitudes are important for student success in your discipline? What are you preparing students for? What are key challenges in the teaching-learning process?
Goals are clearly articulated, specific, and go beyond knowledge level, including skills, attitudes, career goals, etc. Goals are sensitive to the context of the instructor’s discipline.
They are concise, not exhaustive.
|Goals are articulated but may be too broad or not specific to the discipline. Goals focus on basic knowledge, ignoring skills acquisition and affective change.||Articulation of goals is unfocused, incomplete, or missing.|
|Enactment of goals (teaching methods): What teaching methods do you use? How do these methods contribute to your goals for students? Why are these methods appropriate for use in your discipline?||Enactment of goals is specific and thoughtful. Includes details and rationale for teaching methods. The methods are clearly connected to specific goals and are appropriate for those goals. Specific examples of the methods in use within the disciplinary context are given.||Description of teaching methods not clearly connected to goals, or if connected, not well developed (seems like a list of what is done in the classroom). Methods are described, but generically; no example of the instructor’s use of the methods within the discipline is communicated.||Enactment of goals is not articulated. If there is an attempt at articulating teaching methods, it is basic and unreflective.|
Assessment of goals (measuring student learning):
How do you know your goals for students are being met? What sorts of assessment tools do you use (e.g., tests, papers, portfolios, journals), and why? How do assessments contribute to student learning? How do assessments communicate disciplinary priorities?
|Specific examples of assessment tools are clearly described. Assessment tools are aligned with teaching goals and teaching methods. Assessments reinforce the priorities and context of the discipline both in content and type.||Assessments are described, but not connected to goals and teaching methods. Description is too general, with no reference to the motivation behind the assessments. There is no clear connection between the assessments and the priorities of the discipline.||Assessment of goals is not articulated or mentioned only in passing.|
Creating an inclusive learning environment, addressing one or more of the following questions:
How do your own and your students’ identities (e.g., race, gender, class), backgrounds, experiences, and levels of privilege affect the classroom? How do you use multiple teaching approaches? How do you integrate diverse perspectives into your teaching?
Portrays a coherent philosophy of inclusive education that is integrated throughout the statement. Makes space for diverse ways of knowing and/or teaching approaches.
Discussion of roles is sensitive to historically underrepresented students. Demonstrates awareness of issues of equity within the discipline.
|Inclusive teaching is addressed but in a cursory manner or in a way that isolates it from the rest of the philosophy. Author briefly connects identity issues to aspects of his/her teaching.||Issues of inclusion are not addressed or addressed in an awkward manner. There is no connection to teaching practices.|
Structure, rhetoric and language:
How is the reader engaged? Is the language used appropriate to the discipline? How is the statement thematically structured?
|The statement has a guiding structure and/or theme that engages the reader and organizes the goals, methods, and assessments articulated in the statement. Jargon is avoided and teaching terms (e.g., critical thinking) are given specific definitions that apply to the instructor’s disciplinary context. Grammar and spelling are correct.||The statement has a structure and/or theme that is not connected to the ideas actually discussed in the statement, or, organizing structure is weak and does not resonate within the disciplinary context. The statement contains some jargon.||No overall structure present. Statement is a collection of disconnected statements about teaching. Jargon is used liberally and not supported by specific definitions or examples. Needs much revision.|
- What knowledge, skills, and attitudes are important for student success in your discipline?
- What are you preparing students for?
- What are key challenges in the teaching-learning process?
- What teaching methods do you use?
- How do these methods contribute to your goals for students?
- Why are these methods appropriate for use in your discipline?
- How do you know your goals for students are being met?
- What sorts of assessment tools do you use (e.g., tests, papers, portfolios, journals), and why?
- How do assessments contribute to student learning?
- How do assessments communicate disciplinary priorities?
- How do your own and your students’ identities (e.g., race, gender, class), backgrounds, experiences, and levels of privilege affect the classroom?
- How do you use multiple teaching approaches?
- How do you integrate diverse perspectives into your teaching?
- How is the reader engaged?
- Is the language used appropriate to the discipline?
- How is the statement thematically structured?
Use the rubric (in the research section of this page) to review your own draft and make modifications.
Ask your teaching mentors for feedback (you can even provide them the rubric to communicate what you are hoping to achieve in your statement).
Schedule a consultation with CTE (Email Kaila Colyott at KColyott@ku.edu) or request an appointment with a Graduate Writing Coach.
Example Teaching Statements
You can find discipline-specific Teaching Statements here. Each example is considered to be "excellent" in at least one rubric category.
Resources categorized by the dimensions of the rubric
Goals for student learning
- Learning Goals, University of Colorado Boulder, Science Education Initiative
- Review Your Learning Goals, Center for Teaching Excellence Flexible Teaching
Enactment of goals (Teaching methods)
- Active learning, Center for Teaching Excellence
Assessment of goals (Measuring student learning)
- Assessing Student Learning, Center for Teaching Excellence
- Rethink Your Assessments and Assignments, Center for Teaching Excellence
- Authentic Assessment, Indiana University Bloomington, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning
Creating an inclusive learning environment
- Resources for Inclusive Teaching, Center for Teaching Excellence
Structure, rhetoric, and language
- Sample Structure, Yale Center for Teaching and Learning