PANEL & ROUNDTABLE: Supporting GTAs as They Teach Towards the Future (40 mins)
GTAs are an important part of the university teaching team, however, they often encounter a number of challenges during their time in this position, such as balancing the dual role of student and professor and navigating and advocating for themselves within the academy. Likewise, faculty advisors are faced with challenges that prevent them from providing a fully meaningful learning experience for these students. Our panel of GMU GTAs and faculty advisors will discuss our own experiences navigating these challenges and provide strategies to move beyond these obstacles. For GTAs, this includes tips on managing school and job responsibilities, self-advocacy and conflict resolution, and navigating the university hierarchy. We’ll discuss wellbeing, burnout, and issues faced by multicultural/international student GTAs. We’ll share opportunities for professional development and review the impact of the SIS GTA professional development project from Spring 2020. Finally, we’ll cover career opportunities and how to transition into the role of faculty. For faculty advisors, discussion will center around the importance of faculty mentorship for the professional and personal growth of students working as GTAs, including views from the GTA perspective. Additionally, we will provide tips on how to create a meaningful GTA experience, such as how to incorporate teaching pedagogy into their training, provide professional development opportunities, and advocate for them within the university. Our session is grounded in the lived experiences of GMU GTAs and their faculty advisors. GTAs occupy an ambiguous position of teacher, researcher, and student, with considerable challenges emerging as a result of their conflicting responsibilities (Muzaka, 2009). Even though the graduate experience can be considered the first stage of the academic career, graduate students report a lack of advising/mentorship and professional development (Austin, 2002; Jahanbani et al., 2018). During their time as GTAs, it is important for students to be given exposure to information about the pedagogy of teaching and learning (Owen, 2011), however, faculty mentors may find it difficult to provide GTAs with professional development opportunities due to their own teaching loads and research responsibilities. Nevertheless, while it is important for faculty advisors to mentor and advocate on behalf of students, it is also important for them to help students develop a sense of agency and responsibility for their own education (Owen, 2011). Our session will open with a panel on the above-mentioned challenges/strategies for GTAs and their faculty advisors. Following the panel, we will open the floor to questions and input from the audience, including challenges other attendees have faced, strategies they have used to find success as GTAs/GTA advisors, and how these strategies can be implemented on a department/university-wide level. Participants will be able to identify the challenges faced by GTAs and understand the complexities of mentoring these future faculty members. GTAs will be able to articulate strategies for navigating the unique role of student and professor. Faculty advisors will be able to identify ways to create a meaningful learning experience for their GTAs, as well as ways to advocate for them within the university.