Graduate Teaching Assistant Teaching & Learning Community (GTA TLC)

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GTA Teaching & Learning Community (GTA TLC)

This Learning Community engages educators with evidence-based practices and pedagogy to teach in accessible and inclusive ways. Educators, including Graduate Teaching Assistants, Faculty and Staff share pedagogy, best practices, and holistic educator and student success strategies. This group strives to practice a culture of care and to build community and meets twice a month throughout the year.

GTAs and any teaching enthusiast can volunteer to present on topics and practices that are relevant to teaching undergraduate and graduate students and on identified needs in this space. Sample topics are Communicating about difficult topics, Culturally Responsive Teaching, Using High Impact Practices, Rethinking the Syllabus, Engaging Students using Zoom, Recognizing Mental Health challenges using Kognito, Metacognitive Strategies.

GTA Teaching & Learning Community Virtual Lunch and Learn Sessions and Workshops

September 13, 2023: Feedback for Instruction and Student Perceptions of Learning Survey

As educators we are continuously learning and improving our teaching practices. This continuous improvement relies on feedback. In this session we will share ways instructors can collect feedback from students about teaching. Furthermore, you will learn about how you will get your Student Perceptions of Learning Survey (SPLS) feedback at the end of the semester. You will walk away with an example for collecting feedback during the semester and discuss how to use this feedback for effective instruction. In addition, you will learn about what to prepare for when you receive your SPLS scores and how these can be useful to you.

Presenter(s)/Facilitator(s): Dr. Stefanie Baier (Graduate School) and Dr. Nate Clason (Faculty/Academic Staff Development)

August  31, 2023: Navigating D2L Functions as GTAs: Q&A

You are in a new Graduate Teaching Assistant role and have started working with D2L, and as you do so, questions about various functions and use of these arise. This workshop is a Q & A session with MSU IT experts on D2L, Gradebook, Accessibility Checker, Checklists, etc. Join us if you have any questions and need assistance as you navigate the Learning Management System as GTA.

Sue Halick Information Technologist II
James Bender Information Technologist II
Mark Hodgins Training Program Developer III

June 14, 2023: Grading Practices (11:30 am - 12:30 pm)

As exams are approaching, GTAs and instructors in their various roles are navigating ways of grading effectively and providing valuable feedback to students on their learning. In this session, we will share grading practices, identify challenges, and find solutions for effective grading. We will also provide strategies to provide meaningful feedback to students and communicate with them about it.

Seth Hunt, Plant Biology
Sewwandi Abeywardana, Chemistry
Samara Chamoun, Mathematics

May 17, 2023: Navigating & Negotiating Your First Academic Position

Navigating the job market for academic positions is a complex process, from searching for positions to negotiating job offers. This session will provide insight into the multi-step process of applying for different academic positions (e.g., post-doc, R1, R2) and offer a how-to guide for navigating each step. Students will be walked through the process of preparing application materials, effectively reading job calls, submitting application materials, preparing for job interviews, and negotiating job offers.

Learning Objectives:

  • To explore and identify proactive strategies to approach the job market with preparation and confidence.
  • To understand what search committees are looking for in candidates and how to effectively prepare for job interviews.
  • To offer tips and encourage students to advocate for themselves in the negotiation stage of the job market.

Presenter: Dr. Melissa Yzaguirre  

April 11, 2023: Living Syllabus Session Dr. Sabina Vaught

"A revolution by education requires a revolution in education,” writes Russell Rickford in We Are an African People: Independent Education, Black Power, and the Radical Imagination. In this online session, we ask how our syllabi can be revolutionary experiments in reimagining and restructuring a small part of the vast educational project. Join to learn about and discuss one model for engaging a living syllabus--a syllabus that unfolds through collective processes in the context of one course.

Facilitator Bio: Sabina Vaught is a Professor and Director of the Kinloch Commons for Critical Pedagogy and Leadership. Dr. Vaught's research considers global carceral and liberatory knowledge movements broadly and the race-gender labor and conquest relationships among schools, prisons, and insurgent communities specifically.

Zoom Info:

April 5, 2023: GTAP TLC Virtual Lunch & Learn

As instructors we often present the students within our classrooms with opportunities to develop constructive collaborative behaviors. All too often, however, collaborative activities are presented to them with little to no instruction provided on how to actually collaborate. The skills and behaviors necessary for effective collaboration are often assumed by instructors to already be present and mastered in their students.  In this session you will reflect on the use of collaborative learning in your own classrooms. You will learn about topics for instructional content to help you develop and reinforce constructive collaborative behaviors in your students. 

Facilitator: Seth Hunt

March 22, 2023: Lunch and Learn and Listen 

We appreciate all the intentional efforts of Graduate Teaching Assistants during challenging times. During this gathering we will share lunch while connecting with one another about teaching practices and learning experiences during this semester.  

Lunch will be provided. Please indicate any dietary restrictions in the comments box when you register. We look forward to seeing you!  

Facilitated by the GTA TLC

March 1, 2023: Diversity Statement Writing Workshop

Many jobs, especially academic positions, ask students to submit a “diversity statement” with their application materials. Many job seekers, unfortunately, treat such a document as an afterthought, when in fact it is a powerful opportunity to talk about your goals, values, and the kind of faculty member or academic leader you aspire to be.

In this workshop, we will walk you through the process of recognizing your identities and positionality, and the role of DEI in your teaching, research, service, and community efforts. At the end of this session, you will have a working draft to tailor according to your respective needs and to continue your efforts toward DEI.

Presenters: Dr. Stefanie Baier and Hima Rawal

February 17 and 20, 2023: Practical Strategies for Returning to the Classroom 

Following the incident on campus, the campus community is processing what has happened and tries to find ways to move forward. In this session we will start by providing some suggestions for self-care and supports for GTAs and instructors. We will focus on practical strategies for going back to the classroom, making flexible arrangements, modifying the syllabus and assessments. All the strategies will integrate trauma-informed language and practices to help all educators navigate these challenging times.   

Presenters: Sheila Marquardt, Stefanie Baier, Hima Rawal 

February 15, 2023: Grading Practices CANCELLED

As midterms are approaching, GTAs and instructors in their various roles are navigating ways of grading effectively and providing valuable feedback to students on their learning. In this session, we will share grading practices, identify challenges, and find solutions for effective grading. We will also provide strategies to provide meaningful feedback to students and communicate with them about it.

Facilitators: Seth Hunt, Sewwandi Aweywardana, Samara Chamoun

February 1, 2023: Using Feedback to Improve Instruction

As educators we are continuously learning and improving our teaching practices. This continuous improvement relies on feedback. In this session we will share ways instructors can collect feedback from students about teaching. Participants will walk away with an example for collecting feedback, discuss how to design effective questions to elicit useful feedback from students on their learning, and reflect on how it can be used to improve instruction to impact instructor and student success.

Presenter/Facilitator: Dr. Stefanie Baier & the GTA TLC

December 14, 2022: Embodied Self-Care: Honoring the Body and Mind Connection

Many of us experience cognitive overload and burnout during this time of year. Intentionally taking care of ourselves is key to our overall wellbeing. In this gathering, we invite you all to join us for some self-care practices that show us how important it is to keep our bodies healthy to nurture a healthy mind. Bring a friend, grab a blanket or pillow to be comfortable. Join us with a cup of tea/coffee/hot chocolate and relax. You are in for a treat!

Facilitated by Dr. Stefanie Baier & Hima Rawal and the GTATLC

November 30, 2022: Having Difficult Conversations with Students

This Virtual L&L Best Practices in Teaching session will focus on how to effectively initiate and facilitate conversations about topics including (but not limited to) unexpected grades, learning progress, assumptions, biases, and inappropriate comments with students. In this session we will identify contentious topics, use these as teachable moments, and discuss and develop strategies to add to your educator toolbox. Participants can share their own experiences, pitfalls, and best practices. Anyone interested in this topic is welcome to join!

Facilitated by Dr. Stefanie Baier & Hima Rawal and the GTATLC

November 9, 2022: Learner-Centered Teaching

Effective teaching fosters an inclusive learning environment through organizing instruction to encourage students to be dynamic participants who think critically, and question assumptions and biases, and it draws on students’ lived experiences (Barkley and Howell, 2022). 

In this session we will introduce characteristics and principles of student-centered teaching and share methods and activities that have worked for us to engage students in their own learning, using collaborative techniques, reflective practices, and effective note-taking strategies. After this session participants will be able to use effective learning-centered strategies, describe considerations for inclusivity, and share best practices for engaging students. 

Facilitated by The GTA TLC

October 26, 2022: Writing Your Teaching Philosophy Statement

A teaching philosophy statement demonstrates your teaching beliefs, values, use of evidence-based teaching and assessment practices for effective instruction. Many jobs, especially academic positions, ask applicants to submit a “teaching philosophy statement” with their application materials. You also need a teaching statement for Teaching Award applications at institutional and regional levels. Additionally, if you intend to receive a Certification in College Teaching from MSU, your teaching statement is an important part of your teaching portfolio.

In this workshop, we will walk you through the process of recognizing your teaching values and collecting evidence of effective teaching. At the end of this session, you will have a working draft of your teaching statement, which will empower you to continue your efforts toward intentional and effective teaching.

Facilitated by Dr. Stefanie Baier

Director, Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Instructional Development

October 12, 2022: Small Changes, BIG Difference Makers: Strategies That Inspire Faculty and Student Success

Google ‘student success’ and ‘faculty success’ and you’ll find that there are about two times as many ‘student success’ results as ‘faculty success’ results. To say student success is a hot topic and central to our work as educators is clear and evident. Some, however, would argue that higher education cannot increase student success without focusing on faculty success, including equitable, engaged, active learning strategies that are successful for students and instructors. In other words, we need to focus on instructor and student success together. During this session you will have an opportunity to learn about strategies, resources, tools [including those suggested by students and some created by instructors] that GTAs can easily, and with minimal time, integrate into their teaching practices.

Facilitated by Mary Beth Heeder, Sr. Consultant and Project Manager for Student Learning and Success; Instructor, Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures Department, College of Arts and Letters

Facilitator Bio:

Mary Beth is a Senior Consultant for Student Learning and Success and a Project Manager for the College of Arts and Letters. She also teaches a First Year Writing course for the Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures Department. All of the roles Mary Beth has held during her 40 years working at MSU and her research on the neuroscience of education, mindset science, compassion science, and purpose development are linked to her purpose for discovering what true compassion is and how it impacts all students so we can support them as we accompany them in their learning journey.

September 28, 2022: [pre] Prepping for the [submission] Call

Award, fellowship, grant, and scholarship submission calls often sneak up on us, and can sometimes feel overwhelming depending on the submission criteria one must gather amidst the academic year. With some pre-planning and forward thinking, you can have at least some of those materials ready to jump off your hard drive and into that submission call. Walk with me through my MAGS Excellence in Teaching Award submission journey, asking questions along the way and setting aside some of your own teaching goodies as we go.

Facilitated by: 

T.J. Mesyn
Information and Media & Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education Ph.D. programs
Graduate Assistant—School of Journalism

September 14, 2022: Virtual Lunch and Learn ​Best Practices in Teaching

A few years ago, very few instructors at MSU depended on learning management systems and virtual meetings to interact with their students, much less designed their courses to be delivered online. Due to the long phase of emergency remote learning, teaching at MSU now may involve using many modalities, including face-to-face classroom instruction, synchronous hybrid instruction, blended learning, and fully online courses with or without virtual meetings. This session is NOT intended to inform you about the many ways in which you might be expected to deliver instruction. It is intended to turn the question on its head and ask what affordances and approaches, from the wide range available to us now, will help you to connect to your students and connect your students to each other as you strive to guide them toward the objectives of each course. Drawing on sociocultural theories of learning and social presence as well as practical tips for using D2L, Teams, and other tools, we will discuss your experiences, preferences, questions, and recommendations to each other as you move into the new academic year.  

Facilitated by Dr. Amanda Lanier, Director of the FLT Graduate Programs at MSU 

Presenter Bio:

Amanda Lanier (Ph.D., Georgia State University) is an applied linguist and language teacher educator who focuses on social and cultural aspects of language learning, teacher cognition, and technology in language teaching and learning. She began her career teaching English as a foreign and second language, and she has worked with teachers of over 20 languages and language varieties. Through her role as instructor and director in a fully online graduate program, MSU’s MA in Foreign Language Teaching (, Dr. Lanier has designed a dozen online graduate courses on topics including pedagogical methods, intercultural competence, language acquisition theories, and program development and administration and also become an advocate for online learning and teaching. Learn more, find teacher resources, and read brief articles at 

November 9, 2022