Roles and Responsibilities of Supervisors

Teaching Assistants are teachers in training, and as such will be supervised. Supervisors both oversee the work of the assistant and help teach the assistant how to be more effective in the classroom. In many cases the supervisor is the faculty instructor of a large course, for whom the assistant teaches a discussion section. In other cases the assistant is the sole instructor of a smaller course, so the supervisor may be a department leader, such as the graduate program representative.

Supervisors should actively reach out to Teaching Assistants to support their growth as teachers, and they should be available and responsive when assistants reach out to them.

Supervisors should help Teaching Assistants learn to operate online platforms such as Canvas and Microsoft Teams and direct them to campus resources for additional help when needed.

Supervisors should meet regularly with their Teaching Assistants to assess how the students are doing in the class and to make sure that all the assistants are in agreement on presenting materials. Weekly meetings are recommended.

Supervisors also should provide Teaching Assistants with a letter of recommendation at the end of the semester that assesses their teaching, and which the assistant can use for future reference. Assistants can request such letters as well.

In courses in which a Teaching Assistant leads a discussion section, the instructor of record for the larger course must clearly convey all course requirements and Teaching Assistant responsibilities. A written outline of the specific roles and responsibilities of the Teaching Assistant for each class is recommended.

Hiring units are strongly encouraged to provide new Teaching Assistants with a formal orientation at the department or equivalent level before the semester starts. The orientation should address department or other equivalent policies and procedures, convey and clarify workplace expectations, provide access to resources, and introduce new assistants to staff, other instructors, and each other.

Program or department level supervisors should strive to balance the workload of all Teaching Assistants as equitably as possible.