Quick Links

AGSEM Teaching Assistant Training

As a McGill Teaching Assistant (TA), you will have many challenges and responsibilities. SKILLSETS provides opportunities to develop teaching skills, learn about McGill's Learning Management System (myCourses), and engage in discussions with other TAs.

This year's AGSEM Teaching Assistant Training day will be held on January 9th. Beginning with an Open Discussion with the Dean of Students, the day will continue with two 1.5 hour workshops. A variety of topics will be offered (see details below in "Open discussion, Block A and B"). Spaces are limited and will be assigned on a first come first served basis.

  • Alternate paid training: offered on January 29th featuring the Understanding Discrimination workshop (see details below in "Block C").
  • Optional (unpaid) myCourses training: available on three separate occasions (see details below in "Optional").

Workshop Schedule:

Open Discussion with the Dean of Students 

Date: January 9, 2015
Time: 12:15-1:00pm
Location: Bronfman Building (room 151) - 1001 rue Sherbrooke West (Map)

Important: Please note this session is optional and you will not be paid for attending.

Block A

Date: January 9, 2015
Time: 1:15-2:45pm (90 minutes) 
Location: Bronfman Building - 1001 rue Sherbrooke West, basement, RM: various (Map)

Session descriptions:

Planning/leading effective conferences/discussions

This interactive session will provide you with strategies for planning and conducting successful classroom discussions.  Throughout the workshop, we will discuss and model effective ways to open, facilitate, and close discussions. We will also share ideas for managing participation effectively.

Preparing lectures and tutorials

Does the thought of speaking in front of a group of people make you nervous? Would you like to give a lecture or scholarly presentation with confidence? This session will explain some highly effective strategies for preparing and delivering an informative and engaging talk without anxiety.

Teaching and learning in science labs

This interactive workshop for graduate students running undergraduate lab sections focuses on how to create an optimal lab experience for everyone, from students to TAs. Participants will be introduced to research-supported information on how students learn to help them plan their approach to running the lab and take advantage of teachable moments; find out how to set up the environment – both physical and social – that encourages a smoother operation of the lab with better and deeper interactions between everyone; and be given a nuts-and-bolts summary of how to execute a lab efficiently, especially by taking advantage of information from the two previous sections.
Learning Objectives
1. Recognize how students learn to maximize teaching
2. Understand how to set up a safe, clean, and interactive environment that is conducive to student learning
3. Identify how to effectively prepare to teach and facilitate undergraduate science labs

Block B

Date: January 9, 2015
3:00-4:30 PM (90 minutes)
Location: Bronfman Building - 1001 rue Sherbrooke West, basement, RM: various (Map)

Session descriptions:

Interacting with students / interacting with course supervisor

What you say and how you say it is really important to successful communication. This session will introduce strategies to prepare you as a TA to communicate with students, provide constructive feedback and to manage your relationship with the course supervisor based on mutual trust and respect. Participants will discuss some best practices for success in these relationships.

Grading in the sciences

In this interactive workshop TAs will learn about grading and feedback in the sciences to speed up the process of grading and improve the quality of feedback. Participants will be shown how to use grading rubrics to mark both more efficiently and more consistently, whether on your own or in a group of graders. Feedback, the non-grade part of the process, is even more important in the students’ future than grading but is often neglected. TAs will be introduced to different types of feedback and shown strategies for when they are appropriate.
Learning Objectives:
1. Articulate reasons for developing criteria and standards for grading.
2. Develop grading rubrics for a range of different tasks.
3. Define useful feedback and its role in learning.
4. Describe different kinds of feedback.
5. Choose feedback strategies that best fit a grading situation.

Grading in the humanities and social sciences

The aim of this session is to share strategies for grading papers and essays in ways that are rigorous, fair, and efficient. We will examine the standards we apply intuitively when reading student work, experiment with designing and using rubrics to make these standards explicit, and talk about best practices in terms of generating constructive feedback for students

Block C

Date: January 29, 2015
Time: 9:30 AM-12:00 PM
Location: McLennan Library Building, ground floor, RM MS-74 (Map)

Session description:

Understanding Discrimination: frameworks and first steps for implementing equity in professional practice

Designed specifically for the McGill context, this workshop will expose the participant to a number of concepts related to equity and discrimination. During this session, participants will examine ways that unconscious or unintended bias can work its way into everyday interactions; they will analyze culture and identity to understand how bias forms, and how it impacts relationships; and they will work through practical scenarios to develop language, responses, and strategies for addressing inequality and subtle bias in the office and classroom settings.


Optional Training: myCourses workshop for TAs

Are you a teaching assistant this semester? Come to a workshop on myCourses and learn more about using tools like content, discussions, grade book, assignments , quizzes, etc. Spaces are limited and will be assigned on a first come first served basis.


  • January 13 2:30-4:00
  • January 15 10:30-12:00

McLennan Library building, ground floor, RM: MS-74 (Map)

Important: Please note that the myCourses workshop is optional and that you will not be paid for attending these sessions.

Frequently Asked Questions:


AGSEM Teaching Assistant Training FAQ.pdf

Payment Information

TA Training was identified as a necessity by TAs during negotiations for the new Collective Agreement. New TAs are eligible for a maximum of 3 hours of paid training. Returning TAs are not eligible for paid training but are still welcome to attend. We hope all TAs will consider registering for these sessions. For accurate and detailed information on Orientation and Training, please see (Section 13.06.02) of the TA Collective Agreement (2011-2014) here.


McGill Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies wordmark

Skillsets: Unlock your potential

McGill Teaching and Learning Services wordmark