How Can Teachers Assistants Help with Distance Learning
As a Teaching Assistant (TA) your role in the classroom has always been to help students achieve their curriculum goals. But as it is become increasingly clear that learning is unlikely to go back to the classroom, TA’s are beginning to question how they can fulfil this role in a remote learning environment.
The following are just tips to help you maintain a connection with your students and adapt your role as TA to an online classroom arrangement;
Familiarize Yourself with the Tools
To say that remote learning is vastly different from in-classroom learning is an understatement. To begin with the tools, you needed to accomplish your role as TA in the past will change significantly. While there are numerous options when it come to the tools you can use, it is important to check with your college to determine which ones you will be using.
Most colleges in an attempt to help faculty and TA easily transition to the remote learning experience, will offer all the tools you need and even provide training courses on how to use them. Sign up for the workshops to gain an in depth understanding of these tools. This will save you a lot of time trying to figure out these tools on your own.
Figure out the Logistics
Once you are fully cognizant of the tools you will be using, you may want to check in with your instructor to figure out the course logistics. Take the times to plan out your shared responsibilities including adding content to the platform you will be using, who will be leading the discussion, who will grade the assignments and who will monitor the messaging boards. This will help make the whole process of making sure every student has what they need much easier, not to mention, helping the whole class cover much more of the coursework faster and more effectively.
Use Announcements to Communicate
Rather than send numerous emails to all the students in your class, we recommend communicating with the class through announcements. You can very well use messaging boards to make the announcement, but when the announcement is detailed or requires some form of demonstration, we recommend using video as your mode of communication.
With a video recording program like Wondershare DemoCreator you can create a short video detailing what is needed. But it is still important even when using videos to provide a transcript of the recording for those who may not be able to access the video.
Participate in Remote Class Sessions
You should always be present in remote class sessions. You can help the instructor conduct a successful class in the following ways;
- By muting the participant microphones to reduce the feedback
- Monitoring the chat feature and answering questions that may be posted there
- Organizing breakout chat rooms for discussion purposes and then returning them to the larger group
- By managing waiting rooms
- Sharing screens to display slides, desktops and whiteboards
Keep Discussions Active
To keep the class interested in the course-work, you can organize weekly discussions groups using video conferencing tools like Zoom. Ensure that these discussion meetings are flexible enough to accommodate all students even those with dissenting views. You can also continue to monitor any discussions that may happen outside of the scheduled discussion time.
Assess the Students Learning
It is also important to plan how you will be assessing the students. This should ideally be done under the guidance of the instructor. Together, you can come up with various ways to determine how the students are engaging with the purpose. Depending on the course, you may expect them to give a detailed oral or written feedback on the course material. You can also decide on the kind of grading that you will be using for the new learning structure.
Provide Your Contact Information
Make it easy for your students to reach you by providing updated and detailed contact information. Consider including the following contact information;
- Your Name and Pronouns
- Your email
- Phone number and the time of day you will be available to speak on the phone
- Your office hours if you will not be available to the students round the clock
- A short biography to introduce yourself to your students and the coursework you will be dealing with together. You can also specify your role in this short biography.