As a Teaching Assistant (TA) (or Instructional Apprentice (IA) for some courses), your duties start on the first day of classes and end once the final course grades have been submitted. You are expected to be present. If you anticipate being absent for any reason, you must contact both your supervisor and the instructor of the course. On average, you will be working five hours a week for 16 weeks for a single TA unit though the workload will not necessarily be distributed uniformly throughout the term.
Your duties may consist of the following or others, depending upon the course.
- Contact the course instructor, or the Instructional Support Coordinator (ISC) if assigned to an ISG-supported course, before the first day of classes so that your duties can be clarified.
- Attend regular course meetings.
- Hold consulting hours, conduct tutorials or provide assistance in the lab.
- You must be familiar with both the course material and the current assignment. The time required to learn the material does not count as part of your regular hours.
- Your attitude is vital. Students should see you as approachable and helpful, familiar with the course content and the assignments. If your English-language skills are not strong, follow the suggestions from the Waterloo International office to improve your English (https://uwaterloo.ca/international/come-to-waterloo/improve-your-english)
- Collect assignments from drop boxes.
- Look in nearby slots as well since students may have misplaced their paper. If you find another course's assignment in with your papers, direct it to the appropriate person immediately.
- Mark assignments and examinations (both midterm and final).
- Marking assignments submitted electronically may require you to learn and/or write the scripts necessary to compile and/or run the student code. Be prepared to ask questions.
- Once again, be familiar with the course material and the current assignment. Be prepared to ask questions about handling alternate solutions. Do not deviate from the marking scheme without first checking with the course instructor.
- Provide sufficient feedback. Students must be able to understand why marks were removed. Ensure that your writing is readable, and that your comments are tactful.
- If you think you have detected a possible cheating case, report the matter to the course instructor.
- Proctor examinations (both midterm and final).
- Monitor and reply to posts on Piazza, Waterloo Learn or other learning environment used in the course.
- Monitor and reply to email directed to the course email account.
- Update the course web page.
- Record grades.
It will be up to your assigned instructor or ISC to tell you if you will not be expected to participate in one or more of these duties.
Additionally, you are part of the Faculty of Mathematics proctoring pool, and may be called upon to assist in the proctoring of another course's examination (midterm or final). The assignment is random, and you are not expected to be familiar with the course material. Should you be selected, the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies or an approved delegate will notify you.
In all cases, if you cannot perform your duties, you are expected to find a qualified replacement, assuming your course instructor agrees to the substitution.
TA performance management
The initial stages of performance improvement focus on identifying the underlying causes of poor performance and working together to develop a plan to bring performance in line with expectations. In most cases when the TA and the Instructor/Instructional Support Coordinator (ISC) work together, performance is successfully corrected. In situations where there is no, or insufficient improvement in performance, the instructor/ISC should report the situation to Director of Graduate Studies. The Director of Graduate Studies will decide if any discipline actions will need to be taken, which may include a formal warning and/or cancellation of TAship.
You are encouraged to communicate with the instructor/ISC when a question arises about a decision or action affecting you. If you are not satisfied with the result, you may seek a resolution by following procedures described in Policy 30 "Employment of Graduate Student Teaching Assistants", in particular "Graduate Studies Calendar guidelines on Resolution of Disputes between TAs and Instructors".