Intercultural Teaching Circles for TAs 

This conversational program is directed at both domestic and international teaching assistants to discuss and co-create intercultural communication strategies as they pertain to inclusive teaching and learning practices. 

Within any U of T classroom or lab, it is likely that many students will be users of English as an additional language (EAL), have studied at different institutions around the world, and hold various expectations around their learning experience. Additionally, TAs may share in these lived experiences as being multilingual and internationally educated students themselvesAs such, how can TAs both anticipate and support learners from various backgrounds through an intercultural lens, as well as help their students to better understand the pedagogical values behind their own teaching practices 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, instructors and students have both needed to adjust not only to unfamiliar dynamics around virtual course delivery, but redefine what participation and engagement now look like. In these conversational circles, we will address the challenges related to teaching virtually to diverse audiences while also thinking about practical strategies and instructional resources to mitigate some of these issues.  

The goals of the program are:  

  • To offer an informal and discussion-based space for TAs to connect and crowdsource different materials, tools, and/or resources to build their intercultural sensitivity and competence. 
  • To create a community of practice where TAs can regularly return to in order to discuss challenges and success stories around their teaching. 
  • To facilitate a space where all TAs can navigate ambiguities around online teaching as a community of practice and co-create best practices as a collective voice.  

How does it work? 

The monthly one-hour teaching circles will be facilitated by two TA trainers. The discussions will be participant-driven and guided by their interests around challenges, strategies, and resources around intercultural communication practices in spaces of learning (e.g., lectures, tutorials, and labs). 

Each session will have some light pre-work assigned (e.g., short “bite-sized” readings and/or videos), but it is not mandatory to complete them in order to participate. During the first session, the remaining topics for the circles will be finalized according to the group’s interests.  

Who is eligible to participate in the intercultural teaching circles?
TAs and/or CIs at U of T with any level of teaching experience are welcome to joinNo prior knowledge of or experience with intercultural competencies or pedagogies is required.  

Will I receive any recognition for my participation in the teaching circles?
This program is GPS eligible as a CORE opportunity in MyGPD through the Centre for Graduate Professional Development (CGPD). Participants who attend at least three out of the four sessions will receive one (1) GPS credit under Teaching Competence.  

Please note that some pre-work and reflective activities will be also be required to receive the GPS credit.  

How do you register for the program? 

It’s simple! All you need to do is follow the link to self-enroll in the program: 

On this Quercus shell, you will find the pre-work materials and the Zoom links for each session. 

You will need to have your UTORid and password in order to register. To activate your UTORid, visit the Activation website. If you are experiencing issues with your UTORid and password please contact the Information Commons Help Desk. 

When will the teaching circles be held?
Each teaching circle will take place on Wednesday afternoons from 1pm to 2pm (Toronto EST time zone) during the winter/spring 2021 semester on these dates: 

  • February 24th
  • March 31st 
  • April 28th  
  • May 26th  

What if I currently in a time zone that makes it challenging for me to participate on Wednesday afternoons? 

On each of the Wednesdays that the teaching circles take place, TAs in other time zones are welcome to drop in at 9am Toronto EST to chat with staff from TATP, the Centre for International Experience, and/or Academic Success.  

Where can I find the Zoom link(s)? 

All the Zoom links will be listed on the program’s Quercus shell. You need to be enrolled in the shell in order to access all the materials.  

Other questions or need additional information?
Please contact Yaseen Ali at