Teaching Assistant Form

Tasks/Hours

Employment Supervisor

Ways in Which the Hours Breakdown Can be Changed

Appointments


Tasks/Hours

Since section A is mostly biographical, and is filled out be the department of employment, we can skip to section B. In the right column we see various activities, a corresponding check-list, and the number of hours associated with a given task. In the left column, tasks can be briefly explained. Tasks are divided according to the nature of work, from direct contact with students, to evaluating their performance, to miscellaneous tasks. At the end of section B, the hours are added up, and that number must equal the number of hours you were assigned to work for the contract. The total number of hours is not usually negotiated, and is usually decided before you and the employment supervisor discuss the structure of your contract.

The form should usually be filled out by both you and the employment supervisor. You should not simply sign a form they have previously completed without offering your input and airing your concerns.

Before you go into your meeting to fill out the TAF, think about each category, and just how much time it would take to complete certain tasks. Below is a short list of categories that some TAs and supervisors often forget to include, which basically makes you work harder without extra compensation.

Contact with Employment Supervisor:

  • Meetings with this individual should obviously be included in the hourly total, but don’t forget to count the meeting that sets up the contract itself. It usually takes less than an hour, but because it’s a required aspect of your job, it’s meant to be counted.
  • Accounting for emails is not only something you do with students. In many cases, your contact with the supervisor is via email, relating to marking instructions, questions, sensitive student issues, etc… This usually adds up to a couple hours a term, so be sure to suggest this when filling out the TAF.

Contact with Students:

  • While many categories explain themselves, be sure to think about each one and if your job duties require it. While things like office hours are more easily accounted for, email correspondence is something people underestimate. Be sure to discuss how emails take up a decent chunk of time, especially when dealing with sensitive issues like disputed grades, extension requests, and students’ personal matters.

Marking and Grading:

  • While it’s included on this list, the most overlooked entry in this category are administrative functions. While many remember to count proctoring exams, they sometimes forget to give time to organize results into programs like Moodle or onto Excel Spreadsheets. This work takes hours, especially with larger classes and if you need to analyze grades statistically (bell curving, standard deviations, etc).

Other Duties:

  • While all of these tasks are important, and often forgotten by supervisors and TAs, some can be expanded upon. Preparation time covers many things often overlooked, one key example being preparatory reading. If you have to mark book reviews and you have yet to read that book, you should be given hours to do so. If a test you’re marking requires that students reference specific articles, the same should apply. If you need to teach students how to use a computer program or a piece of lab equipment and need to learn it yourself, you should be given hours/training for that as well.
  • Employer required training can entail different tasks depending on department and class. If your department has its own training session, or requires you to go to university-wide training, these hours should be recorded. If you require training specific to a certain laboratory or administrative system, this should be recorded as well. The same is true in cases where individual course supervisors hold training sessions to explain their marking standards and requirements.

 

  • The most important thing is to consider is all the important ways in which you perform your job as a TA, and they ways in which it often goes unrecognized. Most supervisors simply forget about some of these tasks, so reminding them is all it takes to put it on the TAF. If there are serious issues however, and you feel that you are being forced to do work not counted on your sheet, or expected to complete tasks too quickly, you should not hesitate to contact your departmental steward or 901′s chief steward.


Employment Supervisor

For TAs, the employment supervisor is usually the class professor, unless that person happens to be a Teaching Fellow. In those cases, it will be a member of the departmental administration, usually the chair, grad coordinator, or TA coordinator.

Even though the employment supervisor decides how you will assist them according to their needs and the particulars of the course (you may have to attend lectures, lead tutorials, handle student emails, or just mark) your input is valuable to both the professor and yourself. Not only will it help make sure you don’t work more hours than you are paid for, the employment supervisor can also better manage the valuable time and labour you supply them.


Ways in Which the Hours Breakdown Can be Changed

The spirit of 16.07 g is that sometimes changes are needed to the breakdown of hours on the TAF. This is often due to a certain task requiring more hours than expected; in such a case, your supervisor may ask you to cut back on that task so you will have sufficient time for projects later in the term. They may also lower hours on future tasks to ensure that you stay within the limits of the contract. 16.07 g also allows YOU to suggest changes to your contract along similar lines. Essentially, changes to section B of the TAF should be subject to open and equal dialogue between the TA and employment supervisor.

Basically, you and your employment supervisor should meet at around the mid-point of the term to make sure that the contract structure is working as intended. If changes need to be made, you and the supervisor can re-visit section B of the TAF and reallocate hours. to ensure that work gets done and that you don’t do extra hours. The tasks you are assigned should be able to be completed within the time listed on the TAF. You should not work more hours than what your contract stipulates.

Section 16.07 g does NOT allow the employer to change the total amount hours in the contract; If the employment supervisor wants to give you additional hours beyond those stipulated, they need to offer you a new Teaching Assistant Form as per “hours of work” 16.07 h. You do NOT have to accept these extra hours of work if you do not want them, although accepting them will result in additional pay. They cannot cut your hours either. If you have a 100 hour contract, and you only work 90 by the end of the term, you are still paid the full amount.

The employer can only cancel a TAship under stipulations in “Appointments” Article 12.06. In those cases, you will be paid for all the work you had done to that point, and will be first in line for any unanticipated TAships that arise in accordance with “Appointments” Article 12.07.


Appointments

This section addresses two important issues. 12.03 (b) is relatively straightforward, as it accounts for situations where your scheduled work as a student (class/seminar times) conflicts with scheduled work as a teaching assistant. For example, if an employment supervisor wants you to attend lectures for the class you are TA’ing, and those lectures are at the same time as your own graduate seminar, they should make a reasonable effort to structure your work. They make give you more marking assignments to make up for your inability to attend lectures.

12.03 (a) deals with situations where a TA holds a fundamental disagreement with the work assigned based on a personal, academic, or religious belief. If you are assigned work that fits this description, you can notify your employment supervisor upon assignment and they must make reasonable efforts to accommodate you through work that does not conflict these beliefs.

Finally, and this is extremely important, the last paragraph on this second page outlines the basic ways in which a TA can and cannot exercise academic freedom. Because TAs generally lack the independence of most TFs, the extent of academic freedom is narrower.

Essentially, TA freedom gives you the right to complete your assigned work with reasonable discretion, as long as it is within the course objectives and guidelines set by the employment supervisor. Here are some of the limitations, unless explicitly permitted by your employment supervisor:

  • You cannot override an instructor’s marking guidelines or rubrics.
  • You cannot unilaterally decide to add or remove required readings or assignments as outlined in the class syllabus or instructor’s directions.
  • Nor can you ignore content the instructor asked you to teach or acknowledge when evaluating work.

In the end, the class instructor has the right to determine the curriculum, readings, assignments, and evaluation guidelines. You have the right to teach and mark material as you see fit, as long as it respect their guidelines.