Making the Most of Midterms

The middle of the term can be a busy time for you and your students after you’ve settled into the first few weeks. Here are some tips for teaching effectively during this time of the year.

Preparing For Term Work

  • Check-in during tutorials to ask your students how their assignments and projects are progressing. Set aside some time in class to discuss course assignments, to address the most common questions and concerns.
  • Be prepared for the “deadline rush”: if your hours permit, consider setting aside a time for office hours in advance of assignment deadlines or mid-term tests, for individual student consultation.
  • Make your students aware of their College Writing Support Centres, and their online resources at:
“Mixing it Up”
Has the pattern of discussion fallen into a rut? Try some new interactive tools:

  • Stage a debate and give the students a week to prepare.
  • Prepare questions for students to tackle in smaller “buzz groups” and present their findings to the class.
  • Start with an informal talking point to “warm up” the group: bring in a newspaper article, or pose a “what-if” scenario that relates to the weekly topic.
  • Turn background reading into a game and create a puzzle at

Returning Graded Term Work

  • If possible, take up the midterm test in tutorial: identify common mistakes and problem areas.
  • Give students a window during which to raise complaints about their grade: suggest they return in a few days with questions.
Keeping Organized
Try keeping a “Teaching Journal”: this need only be a few pages at the back of the binder in which you keep your other teaching handouts and printed materials. Throughout the term, following each tutorial, jot down a few brief points about how the class went. How was the participation level? What kinds of questions did the students ask? Did they really respond well to an activity or did an activity you planned not work at all? Why do you think the discussion unfolded the way it did and what would you change next time? Keeping brief notes such as these will be invaluable when the time arrives to prepare a review for your students prior to exams and tests.

  • Make sure you have saved both electronic and hard copies of your grades and tutorial notes. Remember to save all course emails, too!
  • Keep tracking weekly student performance in your Teaching Journal, and update attendance records.
  • Check-in with your instructor with a “Mid-Course Review Meeting”, if the instructor hasn’t proposed one already. (Remember, your teaching assistant union, CUPE 3902, mandates it!)

Time for Reflection

  • Take some time to review your Teaching Journal or tutorial notes. What has worked well for your group? How are your students performing? What learning styles have you identified?
  • “Look out for #1!” Keep track of your hours and manage your time wisely.
Martha Harris, Trainer, TATP – © 2006