1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. For Graduate Students
  4.  » 
  5. Offerings for Graduate Students
  6.  » Teaching Orientation for Graduate Students

Teaching Orientation for Graduate Students

CTL offers graduate student instructors orientation resources and sessions to learn about practical, evidence-based strategies that they can implement on the first day of class. These orientations help supplement department-based orientations and trainings. CTL orientations are open to all new teaching assistants, teaching fellows, and graduate students in an instructor role.

Fall 2024 Teaching Orientation

In Fall 2024 CTL is offering orientation materials online, available to graduate students anytime, and running an expanded in-person live session on August 29.

On-demand modules

Five orientation modules are available to all with a Columbia UNI here. These five modules address the following topics:

  • Establishing instructional goals and an inclusive learning climate
  • TA teaching roles and modalities
  • Creating a policy sheet and a first day of class plan
  • Common TA challenges, campus resources that help to navigate them
  • Next steps for teaching and professional development

Orientation available now!

Current Columbia graduate students are able to access CTL’s Teaching Orientation materials at any time.

In-person orientation on August 29

CTL is also offering a live teaching orientation program on Thursday, August 29, for new TAs and instructors looking for teaching community, peer mentorship, and individual feedback. This in-person offering complements the on-demand modules listed above. Spots are limited in the in-person program; registration is on a first-come first-served basis, and is limited to registrants who can confirm full participation.

Participants in the in-person orientation will leave with:

  • A plan for the first day of class, as well as strategies to overcome common TA challenges.
  • Guidance on setting expectations for and engaging with your students.
  • A peer mentorship network of first time and more experienced TAs.

The orientation consists of the following:

Morning session (all registrants): 9:30 am – 12:00 pm

  • A panel of experienced graduate student instructors from a range of disciplines who will share how they’ve set expectations for and with students, planned the first day of class activities, navigated challenges with facilitating discussion, and coordinated effectively with faculty instructors.
  • Activities to directly prepare you for your teaching assignment, through the development of your own policies and first day of class lesson plans.

Additional activities (available to a limited number of registrants):  12:00 pm – 3:00 pm

  • A lunch provided by CTL, featuring informal conversations with experienced and new TAs.
  • A Practice Teaching session, providing a chance to try out and get supportive feedback on icebreaker or early class activities.

Note that spots in this program are limited due to resource and staffing constraints. Please only register if you are sure you can attend in-person for the full session you sign up for. Register for one of the following:

  • Morning session only, 9:30 am – 12:00 pm (coffee provided) – Register here

– OR –

  • Full program including lunch and afternoon session, 9:30 am – 3:00 pm (coffee and lunch provided) – Register here 

About CTL teaching orientations for graduate students

The Center for Teaching and Learning offers graduate student instructors orientation modules so they can learn about practical, evidence-based strategies that they can implement with their students. These modules help supplement departmental orientations and trainings. Faculty and administrators planning departmental orientations are encouraged to make use of materials in these modules as appropriate, and to send any questions about them to CTLgrads@columbia.edu.

The asynchronous modules and live sessions, organized and facilitated by CTL staff and experienced graduate student instructors, enable participants to develop effective strategies for engaging with students during the first week of classes. This includes the development of policy statements that communicate course expectations and help establish an inclusive and dynamic learning environment. Participants will also be introduced to approaches to help prevent and respond to difficult situations that Teaching Assistants and Teaching Fellows may find themselves in, and learn about resources and offices on campus that can help.

Work completed at a CTL teaching orientation satisfies a Foundational Track requirement of CTL’s Teaching Development Program (TDP).

Next steps after orientation

CTL’s orientation gets you prepared for the first week of classes. Here are ways to get deeper and just-in-time teaching support from CTL after orientation:

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can participate in CTL’s orientation?

This orientation is open to all graduate student instructors. It is especially useful for graduate students who are new to teaching.

What is the Teaching Development Program, and how does it relate to teaching orientations?

CTL’s Teaching Development Program (TDP) allows doctoral students to cultivate, document, and articulate their teaching development across the arc of their graduate school career. Participation in the TDP is not a requirement for attending CTL teaching orientations. However, work completed in a CTL orientation counts towards completion of the Foundational Track of the TDP. More information about TDP requirements, certification, and transcript notation is available here.

Are any of the resources from the orientations available seperately?

CTL staff is available to meet with you to talk about any aspect of working with students as a Teaching Assistant or Teaching Fellow.

I had a scheduling conflict with the live orientation sessions – will you be running them again?

The asynchronous modules will remain available to the Columbia community throughout the academic year. If you cannot make the live sessions but have a question or would like direct guidance, email CTLgrads@columbia.edu or visit CTLgrads office hours in 212 Butler LIbrary (Fridays, 2:00 – 4:00 PM during the academic year).

CTL runs Essentials of Teaching and Learning workshops, which build on orientation sessions during the academic year, as well as Practice Teaching (Microteaching) sessions. Join the CTL email list to be alerted about upcoming workshops and opportunities.

The CTL is here for graduate students.

The Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning provides an array of support for graduate students in both their current and future teaching responsibilities.