A person lying on a beach under an umbrella

Before the term starts

is the best time to get accustomed to the course, as you haven't started to stress about other things yet! As a result, there a couple of things you will want to make sure you do:

The TA tax forms, a TSSU logbook and contract

On the administration side

make sure that you visit the ever helpful Valerie to complete the tax and payment forms for your position. She can also provide you with a copy of your Teaching Support Staff Union's (TSSU) logbook and contract which are important to have (more on that in the Your Rights section).

If your course has a specific text (or series of them), Valerie will have copies for you. You will find out the course text situation when meeting your instructor.

An instructor wearing tweed next to a pinging email

Meeting the instructor

— if possible — should happen before the term starts. It helps to do this before the beginning of classes as it gives you a bit of extra time to prepare for the course. During your meeting with the instructor, you want to make sure to have a clear understanding of the purpose of the course, what will be covered, and — perhaps most importantly — establish your role for the course.

As part of your role, the instructor should provide you with a set of lab instructions and, or, materials for the things that will be covered in the labs themselves. If you ever have any questions about these outlines, do not hesitate to bring it up with your instructor as it means you'll likely do better in delivering it in the end.

It is a good idea in this meeting to also establish a time for your office hours and to meet on a weekly basis. Weekly instructional team meetings means that you can check-in about issues, as well as bring up any questions on what is coming up next.

A cape-wearing TA next to different materials they may need to be familiar with

On your own

spend some time getting comfy with the course materials. You want to make sure that you have a good overview of the purpose of the course as well as have started to look at the materials for the first week. If you have any questions, this is a good time to pose them.

A checklist for teaching assistants preparing for the term

Your question for this section

is a checklist! Have you finished the following items?

With Valerie:

  • Filled out the payroll forms for the term
  • Signed the contract for your position

With the instructor:

  • Got a clear understanding of the course
  • Have access to materials being taught in the course
  • Established your role in the course
  • Established a time for office hours
  • Established a time for instructional team meetings

On your own:

  • Reviewed the overview of the course
  • Have a general sense of what you will be required to do as a TA
  • Started to look at the first week's outline

Don't forget to check your checklist with your instructor!

Next up:

Your Rights