Registration is always open for the TAGS asynchronous online material. Check back in the summer to register for our next live sessions, to be held in August.

Questions about content and audience

How does TAGS work?

There are two parts to TAGS: (1) four asynchronous online modules that any member of the UVA community can access at any time, and (2) 90-minute interactive live sessions that are held twice a year, in August and in January. The live sessions are designed with the expectation that participants will have already completed the online material. We recommend that participants engage in both elements of TAGS, but the online material is beneficial even to those participants who cannot attend the live sessions.

What will I learn through TAGS?

TAGS is an introduction to teaching for new graduate teaching assistants (GTAs). Although it may also be valuable to more experienced instructors, the online modules and in-person sessions are designed primarily to help new instructors:

  • become familiar basic principles of equitable, inclusive, and learning-centered teaching and how they might apply these in their teaching;

  • consider ways that various contextual and situational factors—such as their own and their students’ identities, the nature of the discipline and the course, and the physical (and/or virtual) learning environment—might influence their teaching decisions;

  • make a plan for the first day of class and initial interactions with students; and

  • discover resources to return to throughout the semester.

I’m an undergraduate teaching assistant, a graduate student who already has teaching experience, or a postdoc. Can/should I still complete TAGS?

Yes! Although TAGS is designed for first-time graduate teaching assistants, it can be valuable to other participants, as well–including undergraduates working as teaching assistants (or similar; this practice has different names in different schools) and more experienced graduate students or postdocs looking to explore basic principles of equitable and learning-focused teaching.

My GTA assignment is mostly grading and supporting students in office hours rather than classroom teaching. Will TAGS still be relevant to me?

Yes! There are a range of ways to be a TA, some of which look like traditional classroom teaching and some of which do not. You will also likely do different kinds of TAing over the course of your graduate teaching career. No matter the specifics–the discipline, the modality, what your interactions with students look like–there are general principles of equitable and learning-centered teaching that apply. TAGS will introduce you to some of these principles and give you opportunities to apply them to your specific context. Even when the examples in TAGS refer to types of teaching you won’t be doing (or won’t be doing yet), the underlying principles are applicable to all types of teaching and interactions with students.

I’m an international graduate student, and the US educational system is new to me. Can TAGS help me? What other resources are available to support me in this cultural transition? 

Yes! During the live sessions, in partnership with the Center for American English Language and Culture (CAELC), we offer a session designed for new or prospective international teaching assistants. It covers a range of topics to help you navigate the cultural expectations of teaching in an American classroom, such as the syllabus, add/drop, class participation, and office hours. The goal is to help prepare you for life as a TA at UVA.

Furthermore, CAELC provides free English language assessment and classes for graduate students including writing and oral English. These courses are designed to support graduate students in their UVA careers as they navigate the language and culture of a large US research university. They also offer other free English support services such as the VISAS Program (Volunteers with International Students, Staff, and Scholars) and The Writing Center.

Will TAGS provide me with everything I need to know about being a GTA?

No. Teaching is complex work, and the best teachers understand that they always have more to learn. TAGS couldn’t possibly cover everything that every GTA in every context would need, and this has never been our aim. Rather, this is a foundational program, aimed at introducing some overarching principles of effective and equitable teaching to GTAs doing different types of teaching in different disciplinary contexts and with different prior knowledge and experiences. After engaging with TAGS, you will have some big ideas and concrete examples of practices that can be adapted and applied across contexts. This is an introduction to being a GTA, not a comprehensive training program.

TAGS complements department training and support for GTAs, which will be much more specific to the discipline and context than we could ever be. TAGS also provides a foundation for graduate students who wish to dive deeper into learning about teaching in other CTE programs.

What other programs does the CTE offer for graduate students?

In addition to TAGS, the CTE offers Tomorrow’s Professor Today (TPT), a professional development program that focuses on improving preparedness in teaching at the college level. You will gain enhanced teaching abilities and credentials and become better prepared for the challenges you will face in your future career at a university or college, among other benefits. Program activities include attending workshops, observing faculty and peers teach, preparing teaching documents, and peer-mentoring fellow participants. TPT enrollment occurs twice a year, in the fall and spring.

c3Design is the our highly interactive online learning environment designed to guide instructors through the iterative, dynamic, and scholarly process of learning-focused course design. In a small facilitated cohort, you will complete online modules in between attending synchronous cohort meetings. c3Design sessions are typically two weeks long and scheduled at various times throughout the year.

Any graduate student is welcome to take advantage of our confidential teaching consultations. We offer three types of consultations: one-on-one consultations, Engaging Students’ Perspectives’ surveys, and in-class observations. Requests can be submitted at any point throughout the year, although there is a priority signup period at the beginning of each semester.

The Innovations in Pedagogy Summit is a day-long conference that showcases and celebrates teaching and learning at UVA. Graduate students are encouraged to participate in the event by submitting a proposal to present and registering to attend. The Summit always takes place the first Wednesday in May.

The CTE also offers ad hoc learning communities and events on different topics geared toward graduate students.

Questions about logistics and registration

What if I can’t attend a live session in August/January?

While we encourage participants to engage in both elements of TAGS, the online modules remain available to everyone, regardless of their ability to attend the live sessions. If you can’t attend the live session in August, you’re welcome to attend the next session in January, and vice versa.

Will there be live sessions online as well as in person?

We plan to hold both in-person and online sessions, depending on demand and interest.

My department/school requires TAGS for new GTAs but I have an unavoidable conflict on the day of the live sessions. Is there any way to make this up?

The CTE offers TAGS to all departments and schools to engage with voluntarily. There are some departments and/or schools that require their new GTAs to complete TAGS, but that’s their own decision, so you would need to take up any conflicts with your department or school. There is no way to make up the live session in the short term, though you are welcome to attend a live session when they are next offered (e.g., in January, if you cannot attend in August). The online material is available at all times, so you will be able to engage with that regardless of your availability for the live sessions.

Can you provide my department/school with evidence that I completed TAGS?

We are not able to provide evidence of TAGS participation or completion. 

When will I know the time and place for my live session?

We aim to share the time and modality/location for your live session at least one week ahead of the session date.

I indicated particular preferences (for time slots, for in person or online, etc.) in the registration form and now I want to update my preferences. What should I do?

If you need to make changes to the preferences you selected during the registration process, please email to let us know at least 3 business days prior.

It’s a day or two before the live sessions and I just learned about TAGS, but registration is closed. What should I do?

In August, there will be on-site registration for in-person live sessions, as space allows. Register to access the online material (the appropriate link will be on the website when live session registration is not open) and on August 17, come to the registration desk in the lobby of Nau/Gibson Halls at 9:30 AM to be assigned to a session. We can’t guarantee space if you register on-site or that you will be able to attend a session most relevant to your discipline.