Leveraging GTA's, LA's, and Student Leaders in the Classroom
BRIEF SESSION DESCRIPTION:
Teaching Assistants (TAs) - undergraduate and graduate -Â and Learning Assistants (LAs)- not only make invaluable contributions to student learning but they can also benefit greatly from the intensive experiential learning opportunity offered by the TA role (Owen, 2011). Yet, faculty may often struggle with a) how to leverage TA/LA talents to support instruction robustly while b) designing effective learning experiences for the TAs/LAs they supervise. This panel, led by TA/LA voices, will address this challenge and provide practical strategies for striking this important balance. Presenters will also share TA/LA experience learning outcomes, sample learning contracts/assignments, and how to use BlackBoard to provide TAs with good infrastructure around learning. Â Participants will be able to describe several ways to support and leverage student leaders in the classroom.
The purpose of this Teaching Assistant (TA)-led and faculty-moderated panel is to explore and provide practical, impactful tools to George Mason University faculty who are eager to help their TAs grow as effective academic partners in the classroom while facilitating opportunities for TAs to stretch their understanding of peer mentoring and leadership, blossom in critical thinking and problem-solving, and connect the powerful TA experiential learning opportunity to TA's own academic and professional interests.
Owen (2011), in her examination of peer educators, notes that "The higher education literature is replete with exhortations to foster out-of-class interaction between faculty and students, to promote collaborative and connected learning communities, and to help students develop a sense of agency and responsibility for their own education. Involving peer educators in classroom settings as authentic partners in the academic enterprise is one way to promote this kind of institutional transformation" (p. 63). This panel will serve as a living, breathing example of this observation and offer a practical approach to enriching the classroom through TA involvement AND enriching the TA's personal experience through intentionally-designed, TA-centered learning experiences. Participants and faculty who join this discussion will not only leave with tools for better serving their students but also tools for making the TA experience more meaningful.