Considerations and Questions for Your Pre-Course Meeting

NOTE: Duties and responsibilities that must be reflected on the DDAH form are marked by *

Course Overview & Initial Tasks Before You Meet Your TAs

  • What are the course learning outcomes?
  • Who are the students (background with subject, level, class list, etc.)?
  • How many TAs are you going to have in the course? What are the names/emails/phone numbers of all the TAs assigned to this course?
  • Do you require a Head TA? If so, what would be their role?
  • What is the procedure to follow if one of your TAs is ill or must miss a tutorial/lab?
  • What is the workload distribution among TAs assigned to the course?
  • Do you have the DDAH Form for each of your TAs?
  • What do you expect your TAs to do prior to the pre-course meeting or their first tutorial/lab?
  • What type of tutorial will you have in your course:
    • Labs/Practicals
    • Discussed Based Tutorials
    • Review and Q&A Tutorials
    • Skill Development Tutorials
  • What are tour expectations regarding TAs?: preparedness, content competence, overall professionalism(punctuality, etc.), conduct with other TAs in the team, conduct in class, conduct outside of class, quality of feedback given to students, availability/responsiveness.
  • What are your course policies which TAs must follow?
  • Explain your policies around violations of academic integrity, conflict of interest, confidentiality, accessibility and when encountering a student in crisis.
  • Relevant, key departmental, divisional and institutional policies and procedures must be communicated to your TAs.

CI-TA Communication & Meetings

  • How frequently will you meet with your TAs?
  • How can you contact your TAs?
  • How can you be contacted by your TAs? What is your preference for contract (e.g., email, phone, Quercus)?
  • How often do you intend to meet with your TAs? *
  • As your TAs whether they have any prior commitments in the term which might affect their teaching-related responsibilities. Are they attending any conferences that may take them away from the university for a period of time? Are they sitting any exams for their degree during the term?
  • Discuss the TAs working relationship with you.
  • The mid-course review meeting will take place on: ________________________


NOTE: All first-contract TAs at the University of Toronto have to complete four hours of mandatory training. The hiring department is responsible for the TA training. Returning TAs who are switching tutorial categories also must take one-hour of training related to the new tutorial category. You must also identify whether your TAs require training in scaling their learning activities to different sizes of tutorials.

  • Do your TAs require training?
  • Is there departmental TA training? If so when? If there is no departmental training, how can you arrange for centralized training for your TAs?


  • How can your TAs obtain a copy of the course materials?
  • How will the course students obtain a copy of the course materials?
  • If your TAs are responsible for putting materials on reserve, what procedure do they need to follow?
  • Will the course be available on Quercus? (If so, make sure that your TAs have access to it.)
  • Find out who will maintain and monitor the Quercus course and who your TAs can contact for technical problems.
  • Tell your TAs about your expectations around how students are expected to use the Quercus course.

Class/Lectures Attendance

NOTE: This will depend on the DDAH Form so make sure to review it before the meeting with your TAs. Unless specified on the DDAH Form, you cannot demand that your TAs attend lectures/class. *

  • How often do you expect your TAs to attend class/lectures? *
    ___ every class
    ___ exams only
    ___ not required to attend any classes
    ___ other
  • What responsibilities (if any) will your TAs have with respect to the lecture/class meeting? *
    ___ answer questions at the beginning, middle or end of class
    ___ distribute/collect assignments and/or handouts
    ___ take notes on the lecture
    ___ lead discussion(s), facilitate activities
    ___ notify students of class cancellations
    ___ set up/run AV/lab equipment
    ___ lecture/present material
    ___ clarify class/university policies (lateness, assignment/test make-up, cheating, etc.)

Office Hours

  • Are you going to hold office hours? If yes, where and when?
  • Are your TAs expected to hold weekly office hours? *
  • If your TAs have office hours, where and when will those take place? How can your TAs acquire office space?

Other Student Contact Responsibilities

  • How will students contact their TAs?
  • Make sure to review course communication policy: only using U of T email; following strict confidentiality; etc.
  • An email list or Quercus is an easy mechanism for building community/answering questions.
  • Describe what counts as “contact time” with students.

Tutorial/Lab Duties

  • Explain your expectations for the tutorials and the role of the TAs.
  • Provide learning outcomes for the tutorials to your TAs.
  • Discuss the types of strategies, activities, and forms of formative assessment that you want your TAs to use in their teaching.
  • Clarify your course policies around student attendance and participation; student engagement; grading; etc.


  • Do you expect your TAs to reserve, obtain and return AV, computer or laboratory equipment?
  • If so, what equipment will be needed and when will it be needed?
  • Where is this equipment located?
  • Is there a charge, form or project number that should be used when reserving equipment?


  • Do you expect your TAs to photocopy materials for the course?
  • If so, what materials will need to be photocopied and where are they located?
  • Do you expect your TAs to bring photocopied materials to class or tutorial?
  • If your TAs are responsible for photocopying, where should it be done?
    ___ in departmental office?
    ___ at duplicating service?
  • How much lead time is needed for photocopying


  • What kind of assignments are students expected to complete?
  • Specify the due dates and late-acceptance policy and explain the policy around granting of extensions.
  • Let your TAs know about the department policies on grading, plagiarism, and so on.
  • If you intend on using a specific marking scheme and/or grading rubric, make sure to distribute and explain it to all your TAs.
  • Make sure you explain the mechanism for grade complaints.
  • With respect to assignments, what responsibilities will your TAs have? *
    ___ preparing
    ___ collecting
    ___ grading/recording scores
    ___ giving feedback
    ___ instructing students about specific formats
  • What is the quantity of feedback to be provided to students?
  • Does the TA indicate a final grade on the assignment, or should a tentative mark be written in pencil to be confirmed later by the course supervisor?
  • How much time should it take to mark certain assignments?
  • What is your policy regarding make-up tests?
  • Are assignments in multi-section courses returned to students as they are graded or must they all be handed back on the same day?
  • Is there a policy regarding assignments that are emailed in attachments?


  • When will mid-term and/or exam be held?
  • What are the grading criteria?
  • Do you expect your TAs to proctor exams? *


  • What responsibilities will your TAs have with respect to administration and grading? *
    ___ enforce academic misconduct rules—what are the rules around academic integrity?
    ___ assign grades/make recommendations for grading—are these released to the students?
    ___ keep class records—if so, when must they be turned in?
    ___ tabulate grades—if so, when must they be turned in?
    ___ fill out and/or submit grade sheets—if so, when must they be turned in?
    ___ post scores /grades—if so, when and where?

TA  Performance Evaluation/Feedback

  • What manner of performance evaluation can your TAs expect from you?
    ___ formal observation/evaluation
    ___ peer observation
    ___ student ratings
  • When will evaluation(s) be given?
    ___ at mid-semester
    ___ at semester’s end
    ___ at the TA’s request
    ___ when there is a problem
    ___ informally during the semester as part of regular meetings
  • Do you permit your TAs to do their own evaluation in the tutorial?

(Partially adapted from University Teaching and Learning: An Instructional Resource Guide for Teaching Assistants, University of British Columbia.)

Please keep in mind that questions regarding the CUPE 3902 Unit 1 (or Unit 3) collective agreement should be directed to the Designated Authority in your department or to Labour Relations.