8 Working with a Teaching Team

Working with Teaching Assistants

Depending on the size of your course(s), you may be assigned teaching assistants (TAs). TAs can be graduate or undergraduate students, and may be offered these roles as part of funding packages or through a competitive application process. All teaching assistants are members of CUPE 3906 (Unit 1) and work according to the terms of the 2019-2022 Collective Agreement. A full teaching assistantship consists of 260 hours (130 per term), and a partial teaching assistantship consists of less than 130 hours.


TAs fulfill a number of important roles, including leading class discussions, supervising a lab or tutorial group, marking assignments, meeting and corresponding with students, and facilitating study sessions. The specific duties you require your TA(s) to complete and the estimated amount of time each activity is expected to take should be discussed with them before the term starts and recorded in the Hours of Work form available in the Appendix of the Collective Agreement or provided by your department.


All TAs are required to complete the Workplace Health and Safety training and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act training before they begin their first teaching assistant position. Please also note that the 2019-2022 Collective Agreement stipulates that by September 2021, all Unit 1 members are entitled to five hours of paid pedagogical and anti-oppression training on a one-time basis; you are encouraged to discuss this with your department administrators to ensure that your TAs take advantage of this professional development opportunity. Graduate students may also wish to explore further teaching professionalization programming at the MacPherson Institute through the Teaching and Learning Certificates of Completion Program.

Working with Instructional Assistants

Instructional Assistants are staff members (UNIFOR, Unit 1, if applicable) and have a wide variety of skills and responsibilities across the university. Some support courses by managing course websites, student assessments and grading. Others coordinate large groups of TAs, and help with training and coordinating their activities. Others build and maintain course materials for others or themselves to use in teaching a course. Regardless of their specific roles and responsibilities, IAs focus on one thing: the education of undergraduates. As a result, they are a valuable ally to have in your teaching journey. IAs will often have long histories within a department and can be a great place to start if you’re looking to connect with someone about teaching in your discipline.


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The New Instructor Handbook by The MacPherson Institute is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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