WELCOME TO THE TEACHING ACADEMY!
The Teaching Academy is a series of virtual and in-person teaching workshops that are spread over August and September to ensure maximum accessibility. All UMass grad students and postdocs are invited to participate, regardless of teaching assignment or experience!
Our mission is to create a supportive environment that fosters pedagogies that are inclusive, research-based, and focused on student learning. We believe that teaching is an essential function of a public research university and an important part of a graduate education. At the Teaching Academy, we aim to promote collegiality and facilitate mentoring and expertise sharing among postdocs and graduate students from all nine schools and colleges at UMass.
We look forward to welcoming you to the Teaching Academy!
Sessions for TAs Who are New to UMass
What’s It Like to Be a Teaching Assistant at UMass?
Monday, August 28th - 3:00-4:15pm, online OR
Wednesday, August 30th - 10:00-11:15am, online OR
Thursday, September 7th - 11:45am-1:00pm, 209 Bartlett
This short orientation session will introduce you to the role of being a teaching assistant at UMass, including supportive offices, logistical concerns, and the pedagogical approach that UMass values: inclusive, active classes that support all learners as they grapple with the intellectual challenges of our disciplines. The Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) will also join us to welcome you and share how they can support your teaching. Come for tips on teaching and navigating the TA role!
Succeeding as an International Teaching Assistant
Thursday, August 31st - 3:05-4:00pm, Bowker Auditorium, Stockbridge Hall
What do American undergrads expect from you and your class? A panel of international graduate students (Omogbolahan Bello, Ali Söken, and Hongbing Tang) will share their knowledge of UMass undergrad culture, their first-hand experiences teaching, and strategies for teaching success so that you can feel comfortable in the classroom! Please note that this session will not be repeated. Co-sponsored by OPD and IPO as part of International Student Orientation (ISO)!
Sessions for All Graduate Students and Postdocs
Meeting Neurodivergent Students Where They Are
Thursday, August 10th - 1:00-2:00pm, online OR
Tuesday, September 12th - 1:00-2:00pm, 209 Bartlett
Approximately 20% of college students are diagnosed as neurodivergent, and there may be up to another 20% undiagnosed. With neurodivergence so common, we need to learn how to best support and empower neurodivergent students in the college classroom. Join UMass grad student Ann-Marie Sylvia to learn about neurodivergence, discuss some common misconceptions, and delve into practical action steps that both instructors and teaching assistants can take to make both the class environment and the curriculum more inclusive for these students.
Your Discussion or Lab Section Needs Its Own Syllabus!
Tuesday, August 15th - 11:00am-12:00pm, online
The professor has a syllabus for their lectures, you should have one for the lab or discussion section you teach! Join UMass grad student Lilliauna Hopkins on a collaborative journey to help you create your own classroom expectations that respect all aspects of your life, inside and outside the classroom. Participants will begin to create their own TA syllabus and list of classroom expectations to promote a healthy work-life balance for all, both TAs and students. (Bonus! This syllabus creates a sharable professional documentation of your TA work and can later be used in a teaching portfolio!)
Not Child's Play: Using Games to Improve Learning Experiences
Wednesday, August 16th - 1:30-2:30pm, online OR
Thursday, September 21st - 11:30am-12:30pm, 209 Bartlett
Most of us enjoy games, so use that shared interest in the classroom! Games can break the monotony of class, help navigate sensitive topics, and get students to interact. It's all fun when it goes well, but how can instructors plan a game that meets the learning objectives? What resources already exist to help in this effort? Join UMass grad student Paola Pimentel Furlanetto to discuss gamification strategies and get started on designing a game for your class or section!
Breathe with Me: Classroom Reflection to Support Learning and Resilience
Tuesday, August 22nd - 11:00am-12:15pm, online OR
Wednesday, September 27th - 11:00am-12:15pm, 209 Bartlett
We’ve all had that feeling–as if we’re running on a treadmill to meet academic demands. But does this constant information processing really translate into better learning outcomes? This workshop led by UMass grad student Erica Light will explore the power of pausing - deliberately halting the information flow and making space during class for silent reflection - drawing both from the education literature and personal experiences. Attendees will leave with the confidence to implement reflection in their own classrooms and beyond.
Engage Students with Active Learning!
Thursday, August 24th - 12:00-1:00pm, online OR
Thursday, September 14th - 11:30am-12:30pm, 209 Bartlett
Do you wish your students would participate more during class? Feel like you are teaching to a room full of blank stares? There are a variety of simple strategies you can use - in as little as one minute or for an entire session - to encourage students to share their thinking with you and each other during class. Join UMass grad student Jacob Barnett to explore these active learning techniques and learn how you can apply them to your own teaching. We will work through several “tried-and-true” activities that engage students through different modalities!
Improve Your Students’ Writing and Engagement: Scaffolding the Peer Response Process
Thursday, August 24th - 2:00-3:00pm, online OR
Tuesday, September 19th - 11:30am-12:30pm, 209 Bartlett
Learning how to give and receive feedback on writing is a key skill for college students. But designing effective peer response activities requires intention and scaffolding on the instructor’s part. UMass grad student Miranda Lutyens will address common concerns about peer response, including engagement, accountability, and diverse learners. Miranda will also recommend strategies that promote effective peer response structures by combining in-person collaboration and asynchronous feedback.
Achieving Balance: Strategies for Managing Workload and Well-being While Teaching
Monday, August 28th - 1:00-2:00pm, online OR
Monday, September 11th - 1:00-2:00pm, 209 Bartlett
We can often feel overwhelmed by our teaching workload and the demands of our research activities, but it's important to remember that achieving balance is not only possible, but essential for our well-being and effectiveness. Join UMass grad student Mustafa Erdem Kusdil to gain a deeper understanding of your own time management challenges and discover innovative solutions to overcome them. You will begin creating your own "balance plan," so that you leave the workshop with a concrete plan specific to you!
How to Build Community in Your Class
Tuesday, August 29th - 1:00-2:00pm, online OR
Thursday, September 14th - 1:00-2:00pm, 209 Bartlett
Did you know that a student's sense of belonging impacts their learning? Do you feel like you don’t know your students and they don’t know each other? Join UMass grad student Anna McCarter to explore the importance of belonging to learners and develop concrete strategies to foster a sense of community and belonging in your class.
Coffee Reception for all Teaching Academy Participants!
Tuesday, September 5th - 9:30-11:30am, 209 Bartlett
Drop in to celebrate the first day of class! Say hello to the folks in the Graduate School who can support your teaching year-round and grab some coffee, tea, and snacks! Please pre-register for the reception for catering purposes.
Not sure what to attend?
Are you a new TA?
Our "TA orientation" programming is the workshop "What’s It Like to Be a Teaching Assistant at UMass?" and "Succeeding as an International Teaching Assistant." In addition, we suggest "Your Discussion or Lab Section Needs Its Own Syllabus!," "How to Build Community in Your Class," and "Engage Students with Active Learning!" These workshops will give you an overview of teaching expectations at UMass and will introduce you to best practices for inclusion, active learning, and balance.
Are you looking to create a more welcoming, inclusive classroom?
This year we are offering "Meeting Neurodivergent Students Where They Are," "'Trauma-Savvy Pedagogy' & Socio-Emotional Learning in Higher Education," and "How to Build Community in Your Class." We also have an introduction to contemplative pedagogy in "Breathe with Me: Classroom Reflection to Support Learning and Resilience."
Are you interested in tricks for student participation and engagement?
We are so excited for workshops like "Not Child's Play: Using Games to Improve Learning Experiences," "Improve Your Students’ Writing and Engagement: Scaffolding the Peer Response Process," and of course "Engage Students with Active Learning!"
Are you feeling overworked? Looking to keep more boundaries and balance in your work life?
Check out our sessions on "Achieving Balance: Strategies for Managing Workload and Well-being While Teaching" and, especially for TAs, "Your Discussion or Lab Section Needs Its Own Syllabus!."