Teaching Assistant Fellows

Program Overview:

In the Teaching Assistant (TA) Fellows Program, experienced graduate TAs serve as TA Fellows for their options, dedicating time and discipline-specific effort to supporting, enhancing training, and mentoring TAs in their option. The TA Fellows are like TAs for TAs, about teaching in the option and discipline.

The TA Fellows Program represents a collaboration between CTLO and participating departments

CTLO Contributions:

  • TA Fellow Training: late Aug./early Sept (1-2 days).
    The training Introduces TA Fellows to research-based strategies for supporting TAs, designing and conducting workshops, coaching TAs on teaching through practice teaching and recitation/office hours observations, and contributing to a positive teaching culture in their options.
  • Ongoing mentoring and oversight, including regular individual check-ins  (every two to three weeks) and quarterly discussions with other TA Fellows. This includes feedback on detailed plans, suggestions for programming, help with troubleshooting, and other emergent topics.
  • Program evaluation and coordination : collecting and summarizing program-wide impacts and supporting teaching fellows on option-specific assessment.
  • Event funding: CTLO may be able to supplement teaching fellow budgets if they would like to plan larger events.

Department/Option Contributions

  • Selects and appoints TA fellow: Option selects level of commitment suitable to their goals, with input by the Executive Office, Option Rep, and /or administrative staff (suggested: 5 hours per week, ongoing throughout the academic year).
  • Meets periodically to provide input: Selected option-level contacts (EO and/or Option Rep, along with a main administrative contact) meet at least quarterly with the TA fellow, including providing input on initial plans and feedback on activities throughout the year. An administrative contact is available to assist the teaching fellow with reserving space, ordering supplies/food for events, contacting TAs, and other logistics.
  • Provides modest funding for small-scale events and meetings: While not necessary in all cases, a modest budget that the TA fellow can draw upon for refreshments or supplies for TA events can be very helpful and contribute to their success.

TA Fellow Goals and Logistics

TA Fellows can contribute to a wide range of option-level goals and activities, such as:
  • Augmenting and improving discipline-specific TA training.
  • Providing ongoing support and feedback to TAs in the option.
  • Providing focused work on option-wide teaching initiatives, curriculum changes, and/or course-level innovations.
Options appointing a teaching fellow for the first time, or for a specific innovation-related project (curriculum, course, etc.) may consider seeking funding from the Provost’s Innovation in Education Fund. The deadline for proposals for 2019-20 is July 1, 2019.

Options should inform CTLO director, Cassandra Horii (cvh@caltech.edu, x.6225) about their intent to participate by July 1, 2019, and are encouraged to express interest as soon as possible. CTLO can assist options with selecting potential teaching fellows, discussing option-level goals for their work, and customizing the program to the specific context. CTLO is also available to discuss ways the teaching fellows could be combined effectively with other TA and Research duties.

If options wish to select their own teaching fellows independently, here are some important qualities to keep in mind:
  • Successful prior experience as a TA at Caltech.
  • Ability to articulate their approach to/philosophy of teaching in their field.
  • Interest in learning new, evidence-based approaches to teaching in their field.
  • Interest in learning to coach and advise TAs on teaching in ways that help develop their strengths, philosophy, and evidence-based approaches to teaching.
  • Commitment to plan and carry out a suite of offerings in the department in a timely way, with clear communication to both the option and to CTLO.
  • Willingness to receive feedback on their work as a teaching fellow and to continually improve their methods and ideas.