This year, UCLA’s Office of Instructional Development TA Training Program organized the 45th annual conference to provide pedagogical training and resource information to future, new, and continuing TAs. All graduate students were welcome to attend the conference in preparation for future teaching assignments.
Our conference met for two days, September 24th & 25th, 2018 (Monday and Tuesday of Fall Week 0), again this year, offering specialized workshops and panels on topics ranging from lesson planning, grading, and creating inclusive classrooms to preparing teaching portfolios, managing time, and reducing teaching stress. Over 640 people attended, and the average attendee went to about four workshops and special events. This means we checked in people for more than 2,450 seats in workshops, panels, and special events designed to make them more prepared and effective in their roles as TAs. Our conference grew nearly 50% since 2017, and is playing an increasingly vital role in supporting excellence in teaching at UCLA.
The day started with a complimentary breakfast and informative resource fair that connected TAs to campus resources for undergraduate teaching. Then, conference attendees gathered for a keynote to introduce them to UCLA’s undergraduates and their needs. They reconvened to hear from a panel of Distinguished Teaching Award-winning faculty and TAs on Tuesday. Here, they asked questions of the expert instructors who answered questions about how to not only survive the first quarter of teaching, but to excel in their classrooms. The second day finished with complimentary coffee, sweets, and a raffle as participants shared the lessons they learned and networked with fellow TAs from all over campus. Both days offered three 90-minute workshop sessions, with 20 concurrent workshops each session through Monday and 13 concurrent workshops each session through Tuesday.
Sessions focused on important topics such as:
- Strategies for classroom management, the first day of class, and lesson planning
- Opportunities to ask experienced TAs and professors questions about teaching students in crisis
- Discussions of how to lay the foundations for successful student writing and learning
- Strategies for assessing and grading students and for leading active learning-based sections and labs in each discipline
- Developing cross-cultural communication and conflict resolution skills
- Professionalizing and preparing materials for academic job markets