Teaching experience is an important part of the graduate student program. There are many professional development opportunities for our teaching assistants.

L&S TA Training

Since 1990, L&S has worked closely with its Teaching Assistants to provide professional development opportunities and to help meet pedagogical challenges.

Each August, just before the fall semester begins, the College offers a comprehensive day of training workshops, which are led by the L&S Teaching Fellows.

In January, L&S conducts a training session for TAs who teach for the first time in the spring semester. We also offer a variety of individualized TA training and professional development workshops delivered to your department throughout the year.

UW Writing Center Training for Communication-B TAs

If you are a new TA for J201, then you are required to take the training for Comm-B TAs, as this is a writing intensive course.

All TAs **teaching a Communication-B course for the first time** are required to attend all three sessions. If new Comm-B TAs have substantial previous experience teaching writing and have completed comparable training, they should contact Brad Hughes, Director of Writing Across the Curriculum (bthughes@wisc.edu), to discuss how that previous experience and training can substitute for the training being offered.

These interactive workshops, which have been offered every semester since January 1997, will feature presentations by and discussions with three Comm-B Teaching Fellows–outstanding TAs who have recently taught Communication-B courses in departments across the university. The final part of this training, which will focus on responding to and evaluating student assignments, will be scheduled for the third or fourth week of classes during the semester.

 J902 Teaching Colloquium

J902, offered in the spring, is a weekly, one-credit graduate colloquium series, sponsored by the UW-Madison School of Journalism & Mass Communication, focusing on issues of classroom teaching for communication-related courses. All graduate students interested in becoming better teachers, regardless of department or college, are invited to enroll.

Every Friday at noon we’ll hear a guest lecture on a different topic, from instructional technology to classroom pedagogy. Optional readings, resources, and discussion opportunities tied to each week’s subject and speaker will be made available online.

 International TA Training

The SPEAK English language test is required for any non-native English speaking student who is offered a TAship and for continuing students who express interest in TAing for us. Doing well on the SPEAK test does not guarantee a TA position, as the Graduate Committee uses a number of criteria to make those decisions.

  • For new, incoming TAs the test must happen as soon as they arrive. If they do not score 45 or better, they cannot TA.
  • The Graduate Committee may also decide to do an extended interview with an applicant to determine English proficiency.
  • For continuing students it must happen before they can be offered a TAship.
  • Students who have scored 26 or better on the Speaking portion of the TOEFL are exempt from the SPEAK test.

All International TAs are strongly encouraged to take the ITA course, which focuses on pedagogy and is designed to develop teaching skills in an American context. The course is offered every semester and during the summer and is free of charge. ITA offers follow up classroom observation and feedback. The ITA Training Program helps non-native English speaking TAs (or potential TAs) to improve their oral communication and classroom teaching skills. The program focuses on three areas essential to good teaching.

  • Pronunciation and Communication Skills: Language practice to make classroom speech more clear and effective.
  • Presentation Skills: Digitally recorded teaching presentations, tutorials, and peer feedback.
  • Cultural Background: Discussion of the TA’s role, undergraduates’ expectations of a TA, and the unique aspects of the US educational system.

In addition to regular class sessions, individual tutorials are scheduled to watch videotaped presentations. The course is offered every semester, fall, spring and summer. The course carries no credits. There are no fees and no required texts. A packet of material from a copy shop will be assigned.

If you wish to take the SPEAK Test, contact Graduate Advisor Lisa Aarli. To enroll in the ITA, you may register for ESL 370 the same way you enroll in your other classes.