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 Conference, which takes place at the commencement of both the fall and spring semesters, GTA Tutorial Resources, Teaching the ‘Whole Student,’ the Final Fridays Workshop Series, CTE’s GTA Teaching Development Group, as well as our Graduate Seminar Modules.

New GTA Conference 

Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) play an integral role 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 CTE New GTA Orientation can be found by referring to the New GTA Orientation Flyer.

All first-time GTAs must complete all components of the New GTA Orientation during their first semester of teaching. This orientation consists of three components:

New GTA Policy Tutorial:
  • All new GTAs will receive information from their departments about how to access the Online Policy Tutorial that will be made available on Blackboard two weeks before the first day of class.
  • All new GTAs must complete the Policy Tutorial, regardless of where they complete the conference/follow-up (CTE Remote Conference and New GTA Follow-up Session or approved departmental orientation).
  • Questions about access or the content of the questions should be directed to Kaila Colyott at
  • New GTAs must achieve a score of 100% on the Policy Tutorial no later than the first day of class.
CTE Remote Conference and Alternative GTA Orientations:

CTE Remote Conference will introduce you to best practices and provide examples of excellence in teaching.

• GTAs will complete the CTE Remote Conference Modules in Blackboard.

• There are two parts of the CTE Remote Conference; 1. Essential Modules and 2. Breakout Modules that will be made available the week before the first day of class.

• GTAs are required to complete the four Essential Modules no later than the first day of class.

• GTAs should choose and complete three of the available Breakout Modules no later than the end of the fourth week of class.

GTAs in some departments are exempt from the CTE Remote 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 but complete an approved alternative orientation provided by their department instead of the CTE Remote 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, Remote 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 requirements of departments that have exemptions.

GTAs teaching in departments with alternative GTA training need to complete: Policy Tutorial CTE Remote Conference Orientation in the hiring department CTE Follow-up Session
Chemistry Yes No Yes No
Communication Studies Yes No Yes No
English Yes No Yes No
French & Italian Yes GTAs have access to CTE modules Yes GTAs have access to CTE option
Geology Yes GTAs have access to CTE modules Yes No
Physics & Astronomy Yes No Yes No
CTE Follow-Up Session:
  • New GTAs must register to attend the session of their choice through Blackboard.
  • Session registration will be available during the the fourth week of the semester.
  • Sessions will be held during weeks 5–8.

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 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 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 covers 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 yourself 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.

Final Fridays Workshop Series [Fall 2020]

Final Friday Workshops are lunchtime (read PIZZA) workshops for experienced GTAs who want to discuss different facets of teaching in higher education. There are no Final Friday Workshops planned for Fall 2020. Contact with any questions or comments on the Final Friday Workshop Series.

GTA Teaching Development Groups [Fall 2020]

Please see below for the virtual programming that will be available for graduate students in Fall 2020. We are asking those that are interested to fill out a survey for the program to tell us about yourself, your availability, and your topics of interest if you have an interest in joining the group. The finalized details are posted below. Email Kaila Colyott ( to get the details about how to join virtually.

Support Group for Preparing for the Academic Job Market (via Zoom) Meets weekly starting September 28th

This group will meet weekly on Mondays from Noon to 1 PM (CT). Email Kaila Colyott ( for details.

Draft weekly schedule (might be adjusted to fit the group’s needs):
September 28th – Planning and Searching During a Pandemic
October 5th – Writing a Reflective Teaching Statement
October 12th – Writing a Diversity Statement
October 19th – Curating a Curriculum Vitae
October 26th – Writing a Research Statement
November 2nd –  No meeting this week
November 9th –  Writing a Cover Letter
November 16th – Preparing a Teaching Portfolio
November 23rd – TBD

CALL: This group provides space for graduate students to discuss the preparation of materials for the academic job market. Topics will include finding job advertisements and leveraging your network, dissecting academic job postings, writing a reflective teaching statement, preparing a teaching portfolio, writing a diversity statement, writing a cover letter, and curating your curriculum vitae. The discussion will use a “flipped” teaching format, where content and resources associated with the topic are provided before each meeting. Using this method will give us more time during the meetings to discuss each topic as it directly relates to your preparation process and respond to any challenges or questions. Starting the week of Sept. 28, the group will meet on a weekly basis. If you are interested in joining the group, please fill out this form to share your interests and availability. Details about the weekly meeting day, time, and subject will be sent to all who fill out the form, but others are welcome to join the group at any point.


GTA Flex Teaching and Learning Community (via Zoom) Meets weekly starting September 14th

Upcoming Meeting: Join us Wednesday, September 23rd from Noon–1 PM (CT) via Zoom (email for details) to discuss Supporting Your Students and Yourself.

CALL: This group provides space for GTAs to come together to discuss their teaching and learning experiences during the Fall semester. Topics might include building community in your class, managing technology, balancing your different roles on campus, getting early feedback from students, supporting your students and yourself, engaging students, reflecting and looking forward, and handling academic misconduct. The topics will be curated according to your needs, and there will be opportunities for GTAs to co-lead discussions about a topic of their choice. Starting the week of Sept. 14, the group will meet on a weekly basis. If you are interested in joining this virtual community, please fill out this form to share your interests and availability. Details about the meeting day, time, and subject will be sent weekly to all who fill out the form, but others are welcome to join the group at any point.

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 Blackboard. 

If you would like to request access via Blackboard, 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

We would love to hear from you about past workshops or groups you’d like to see offered again or new topics that you would like to see presented in the future.


Submit Comment Here


Past Final Friday 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.