Get a Teaching Assistant
Integrating a Service-Learning Teaching Assistant into your course can help make teaching a service-learning course more manageable. Offered through the VCU Office of Service-Learning, the Service-Learning Teaching Assistant Program and the Service-Learning Graduate Teaching Assistant (SLTA/SLGTA) Program gives you the opportunity to nominate a student to work alongside you as your SLTA/SLGTA.
Adding a teaching assistant to your course offers a mutually beneficial experience for you and your SLTA/SLGTA. It offers faculty critical support for coordinating student service experiences and ensuring quality service and reflection; at the same time, it offers the SLTA/SLGTA a unique opportunity to develop professionally, engage more deeply with the community, and collaborate closely with a faculty member. Any faculty member teaching a service-learning course may nominate a student to be a SLTA/SLGTA.
About the SLTA/SLGTA Program
Through this program, service-learning course instructors select a trained graduate- or undergraduate-level teaching assistant to work with them for an average of five hours each week throughout an academic semester.
Service-learning teaching assistants fill a number of critical support roles, including:
- Leading class discussions
- Monitoring student service hours and participation
- Liaising with community partners
- Providing feedback on written reflections
- Planning projects or events related to the course
- Mentoring students about community engagement skills and best practices
Instructors nominate outstanding students for the SLTA/SLGTA Program. Nominated students receive training and supervision from the Service-Learning Program Office staff before and during the time they serve as teaching assistants. You may have more than one teaching assistant work with you to support teaching and learning in your service-learning class.
Requesting a SLTA or SLGTA
If you are teaching a designated service-learning course in an upcoming semester, we encourage you to consider integrating a service-learning teaching assistant into your course. First, read about the SLTA/SLGTA Program and consider how an SLTA/SLGTA might help you in your service-learning class. Then, talk to an outstanding student about serving as your teaching assistant during the upcoming semester—preferably a student you know and have taught previously.
Once the invited student agrees to work as your teaching assistant, nominate the prospective service-learning teaching assistant by filling out the online SLTA nomination form. Nominated students must then submit an online SLTA/SLGTA Application.
After their application is accepted, the SLTA will enroll in the appropriate SLTA seminar course: CMST 391 (PDF) for first-time undergraduate SLTAs; CMST 411 (PDF) for returning undergraduate SLTAs; CMST 691 (PDF) for graduate students.
Working with your SLTA or SLGTA
A teaching assistant can help you manage your teaching load in many different ways, and how you choose to incorporate your SLTA/SLGTA into your class is up to you. However your SLTA/SLGTA fits into your class, we ask that all instructors consider the following guidelines for cultivating a constructive relationship with your teaching assistant(s):
- Establish clear job responsibilities for your teaching assistant before the beginning of the semester. This includes expectations for class attendance, grading journals, site visits, regular contact with service sites, monitoring student service hours and facilitating reflection activities.
- Hold weekly meetings with your teaching assistant.
- Introduce your teaching assistant to the class and explain the TA’s role at the first class meeting.
- Act as a mentor to your teaching assistant.
- Empower the position of teaching assistant.
Evaluating your SLTA or SLGTA
Instructors working with a service-learning teaching assistant will be asked to complete a written evaluation of their teaching assistant twice a semester and to share these evaluations with them in constructive, face-to-face meetings. These evaluations function both as grades for your SLTA/SLGTA and as important opportunities to develop professionally.
Service-Learning Teaching Assistants
Learn about the benefits of taking service-learning to the next level as a Service-Learning Teaching Assistant.