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Resources for TAs/GAs

Below are a number of resources that may assist you in your role as a TA or GA at Ryerson University. Should you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Curtis Maloley, MA
Educational Developer
Ext. 6598, cmaloley@ryerson.ca

Table of Contents

 


Who are TA/GAs?

Overall, an assistantship can be understood as a paid apprenticeship: the TA or GA builds teaching experience while being paid for his or her work in a particular field of study and practice. The Department or Faculty supervisor is responsible for the Assistant, and is the main contact person for the position. Assistants are paid employees of the university, and all Ryerson policies and contractual union obligations govern their duties and actions. The CUPE collective agreement sets out the definitions of TA/GAs, their duties and obligations.

According to the CUPE agreement, Assistants have the following duties and obligations:

ARTICLE 12 DUTIES AND OBLIGATIONS

12.01 Duties

Assistants play a number of vital academic support roles at Ryerson. These may vary considerably from Faculty to Faculty, Department to Department, School to School, and from course to course.

The duties of a Graduate Assistant or Teaching Assistant may include, but are not limited to: preparation for classes, preparation of written or audiovisual materials; revising and maintaining course related material; attending lectures; serving as tutors, leading discussions and supervising laboratories; demonstrating and explaining the use of equipment; helping students perform technical procedures; assisting students in project work in specified laboratories; helping students perform and solve given course-related assignments; holding office hours; consulting with students (including electronic consultation); assisting in the grading of tests, lab sets, essays and term papers; proctoring tests, midterms, and quizzes; setting up experiments; monitoring the working condition of equipment in the assigned laboratory/learning environment; attending employer orientation workshops and training; and conferring with the Supervising Instructor in charge, as required by the employee's duties.

Assistantship duties shall be comprised of an appropriate combination of some (not all) duties listed above.

12.02 Assistants shall not be required to carry out the following duties

lecturing/teaching; responsibility for student course grades, course content and mode of delivery; or general departmental responsibilities of an academic nature.

Assistants shall not be required to perform duties which are not associated with the course section to which they are assigned.

In addition, Assistants shall not be required to create mid-term and final examinations. These obligations are solely and exclusively within the purview and responsibility of the supervising instructor.

12.06 Obligations

The obligations of an Assistant shall be to:

A. Contribute positively to the learning experience of Ryerson students.
B. Deal with all students respectfully and thoughtfully, and that student work should be treated seriously and fairly.
C. Make every attempt to create an atmosphere of mutual respect in which students learn. Assistants shall make every effort to stimulate intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm for learning.
D. Refrain from expressing or condoning views or adopting attitudes and behaviours, which might damage or violate the self respect, dignity and human rights of the students.
E. Respect the dignity, integrity and human rights of their students and Faculty Supervising Instructor and shall sustain a climate in which students may function as responsible students.
F. Display a sense of responsibility for the facilities of the University; to maintain punctually their schedules; to obtain advance approval, except in cases of unforeseen emergencies, for any deviation from their schedules; and to adequately plan.
G. Ensure that he/she has a complete understanding of his/her position description.
H. Bring an attitude of professionalism to their work.
I. Respect and adhere to the University policies on Human Rights, Harassment Prevention, Occupational Health and Safety among other policies and standards.
J. Refer any matter to their Faculty Supervising Instructor/Chair/Director that is beyond their knowledge level, experience or their level authority specified in their position description.
K. Maintain the confidentiality entrusted to them as a Ryerson employee. This means that details of student or employee business will not be discussed outside the relevant context of their work at Ryerson.
L. Not criticize Faculty members, their Faculty Supervising Instructor/Chair/Director or staff members with students; to not encourage or solicit criticisms of colleagues from students; and to not discuss their grievances with students.
M. While Assistants shall have the freedom to participate in general discussions of issues arising within the University, any criticism expressed in such discussions shall be characterized, as must criticism voiced anywhere, by a sense of responsibility. Assistants who engage in discussions or activities outside of the University shall do so, so as to not reflect adversely on, or be to the detriment of the University.

13.04 Workload

If a Graduate Assistant or Teaching Assistant is offered, and willing to undertake, a Graduate/Teaching Assistant Position over the allotted 130 hours per terms, he/she may do so provided that they do not exceed the allotted 390 hours in any academic year (over 3 semesters). The CUPE contract has a detailed breakdown of these duties, which normally fall into three basic classifications:

A. Laboratory sessions
B. Tutorials
C. Marking

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Policies Governing TA/GAs

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Documents and Handouts

 

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Job Postings

TA/GA opportunities are posted in the eHR section of my.ryerson.ca.

Other work opportunities from GAs may be tied to graduate funding available from the Yeates School of Graduate Studies or other internal and external organizations.

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Support Services

A selection of helpful Ryerson services provided for both instructors and students:

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Where do I find out information about becoming an Assistant?

A: Careers & Jobs

Q: Am I allowed any accommodations or assistance in my work as an Assistant for a disability or a chronic illness?

A: Yes, in many cases, accommodations can be made, and you should check with Student Services or Academic Accomodation Support for conditions that may apply to your needs.

Q: Who can help me if I have a conflict with my supervisor?

A: To avoid conflict, the LTO recommends the use of the following document:
Establishing Effective Working Relationships Between TA/GAs and Supervising Instructor [pdf]

When problems to arise, we encourage Assistants to work out difficulties with your supervisor, if at all possible, one on one. However, you may wish to contact first and foremost Ryerson's Human Resources or your CUPE representative, if your supervisor cannot help you. The Chair of the Department for which you work and the Dean of the Faculty for which you work might be good resources as well. Please see the above section on Support Services for more resources.

Q: Who can help me if I have a conflict with one of my students?

A: We encourage Assistants to work out difficulties with your supervisor's aid. However, you may wish to contact first and foremost Ryerson's Human Resources, if your supervisor cannot help you. The Chair of the Department for which you work and the Dean of the Faculty for which you work might be good resources as well. Please see the above section on Support Services for more resources.

Q: Are there any resources for developing my TA and GA skills before I become an Assistant?

A: The LTO is pleased to offer a TA/GA Orientation at the beginning of the academic year, designed to help prepare new TAs and GAs for their first day of class. This orientation is open to all TAs and GAs from all Faculties at Ryerson University.

Q: Are there any training sessions that Ryerson offers for Assistants, so that I can better understand my duties?

A: The Professional Development in Teaching Program is available to all TAs/GAs and Graduate Students. The LTO also runs a Workshop Series for TAs/GAs and Graduate Students.

Q: How do I get paid?

A: See Human Resources for details.

Q: When do I get paid?

A: Human Resources posts updated Pay Schedules every semester.

Q: How much work do I have to do contractually?

A: As per the CUPE Collective Agreement, "if a Graduate Assistant or Teaching Assistant is offered, and willing to undertake, a Graduate/Teaching Assistant Position over the allotted 130 hours per terms, he/she may do so provided that they do not exceed the allotted 390 hours in any academic year (over 3 semesters.)"

Q: What are my duties?

A: Duties normally fall into three basic classifications: A) laboratory sessions; B) tutorials; and C) marking. See Article 13.04 of the CUPE Collective Agreement for more information.

Q: If I, or one of my students, is being harassed, who can help?

A: Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services (DHPS) can offer guidance in any such cases.

Q: Can an Assistant kick a student out of a tutorial or lab if they are harassing or abusive in nature?

A: In short, yes, because everyone has the right to enjoy a safe and secure learning experience, and if any of the freedoms listed in the Student Code of Academic and/or Non-Academic Ethics are infringed upon, then the community as a whole is responsible for ensuring the safety and security of one another.

As an employee of Ryerson, the Assistant is the representative of their supervisor and the university; in that capacity, they are expected to be community leaders and are responsible for protecting and ensuring the safety of the students, the equipment, and the overall environment of the university. All Ryerson community members should know their rights and know that they can call Ryerson Security if needed -- 416-979-5040.

Remember to inform your supervisor and department immediately when any problems of safety, security, or academic dishonesty occur.

Q: Who do I contact if I'm having technology problems, such as not being able to open a computer podium in a classroom?

A: Computer and Communication Services(CSS) or Media Services

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