Before the first class

Being a TA, TA Guides

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The list below represents what a group of experienced UVic Teaching Assistants (TAs) have identified as key questions to think about before the first class as a TA. Not all suggestions below may be applicable in all departments on campus. Please use the list as a guide only as this list is not exhaustive but encompasses a diverse array of questions.

When you are appointed as a Teaching Assistant (TA), you become part of a team that includes a course supervisor (usually a faculty or staff member) and potentially other TAs. Before your first class, meet (online or in-person) with the course supervisor to discuss the following questions.

General course expectations

  • What duties will you perform?
  • Are you required to attend the lectures?
  • When do you teach? When are the office hours? Who sets them?
  • When will you obtain access to the course outline and the assigned reading material?
  • If applicable, can you obtain a list of students’ names of your class (you can ask for them with e-mail addresses included) and arrange for updates at appropriate times?

Grading and marking

  • Who generates the marking guides?
  • What deadlines exist, and which ones are fixed versus hopeful?
  • What should you do if you identify a conflict of interest?
  • Will rubrics or answer keys be provided for the assignments you are marking?


    • Do you have access to photocopiers (is a code required to access?), audio-visual material, software, or computer facilities?
    • Find out if you will have an office, a desk, a phone or a mailbox – particularly if you are not working elsewhere in the department in another capacity. If the class is online, find out if you will have a specific technology (e.g., Zoom or MS Teams) assigned to you to hold office hours.
    • If the class is in-person, where is the classroom? Does it have a clock? Do you need chalk or white board pens and erasers? What classroom technology is in the room? Should you set up a tutorial with AV to learn how to use it? If the class is online, where is the Zoom (or alternative video software) link? Do you have a Zoom account? Are you familiar with its features?

    This guide was developed during the Teaching Assistant Consultants’ (TACs) seminars for the academic year 2009-2010 and updated in 2020-2021.

    About this post

    This post was last updated:

    August 8, 2022

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