The TSSU acting as a shield for the TA

Your Rights

as a TA are protected by the Teaching Support Staff Union or TSSU for short. They work to ensure that you are fairly represented and treated as a TA in the university as a whole.

In this section you will find the issues that come up most frequently for TAs at SIAT. This is by no means the only issues you should be aware of though, and it is a great idea to meet with your TSSU rep to find out more about things you should be aware of as a TA.

The separation of time use as a TA illustrated in a pie-chart

Your 'Time Use Guideline'

— or TUG for short — is a document that helps establish how your time will be used over the term, and will include breakdowns of items such as your time for lab prep, in-lab or grading. Before or during the first week of classes, you and your instructor should review and sign-off on your TUG ensuring the distribution and the total number of hours looks correct.

This is where the TSSU logbook comes into play, as it lets you track your weekly hours to ensure that you are not working overtime. Keep track of your weekly hour usage as your instructor will need to perform a workload review in which they will check if you are working within the alloted number of hours, or if more time will be needed.

A series of different hats with the comment 'work within the hats' written below it

Working within your role

should not be a concern if expectations of what you will be doing were well established with your instructor. You may occassionally be asked to do things that go beyond the scope of your employment, and you are well within your rights to refuse the given task.

Should you find yourself in a situation where you are being asked to complete something beyond the scope of your employment and the instructor does not agree, you should discuss the issue with the department immediately. If the department is unable to help you resolve the issue, then speaking with your TSSU rep should be the next step.

A racetrack with the TA at the end with an evaluation form

Performance and evaluations

are an item that the instructor will assess as the term goes on. The instructor will likely provide you with feedback as the term progresses, and if there is a formal concern with your performance, they will address it with you in writing.

At the end of the term there is a formal evaluation that will be performed. This evaluation should only address the concerns that came up during the term, and not introduce new ones.

A TA waving a megaphone and recording a video of themselves

Should you ever have concerns

with your employment, it is a good idea to make those involved aware of it. If there are concerns with your instructor that they have not addressed, it is worthwhile discussing them with the department, and should the department not be able to address them, that is where the TSSU is there to support you. The TSSU is also a good resource for finding out more about your rights as a TA, so should you ever have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact them.

Your questions for this section


  1. Who is the TSSU representative for your department?
  2. How many hours per week should you expect per type of task? (i.e. grading vs. attending lecture)
  3. What are three areas on which you will be evaluated at the end of the term?

Next up:

Prepping a Lab