Lead TA Responsibilities

A lead Teaching Assistant has an extra amount of responsibilities, usually of an administrative and/or logistical nature. Typically, a Lead TA is assigned to a class with high enrollment that also has a number of regular TAs. Hierarchically, the Lead TA is positioned between the regular TAs and the professor (or, in the case of a science/engineering course, between the laboratory director and the regular TAs).

Additional things that a Lead TA should check on before the first day of class:

  • Meet with the professor and make sure you know what is his preferred method of communication (email or phone) and also how early/late can you call
  • Ask the professor whether he wants to work closely with all the TAs (e.g. weekly meetings) or he expects you to be the relay between him and the other TAs
  • Obtain a list of the regular TAs for the class, with name and contact information (from the graduate coordinator or the office manager in your department)
  • Set up an email list in your USC account with the TAs emails
  • Schedule a meeting with the regular TAs before the first day of class
  • Draft the schedule for the discussion or laboratory sessions—who’s teaching when?
  • Draft the schedule for the office hours with the regular TAs (days, times, location)
  • Place the class readings on reserve at the library
  • Inform the TAs about mandatory weekly meetings (if such meetings are requested by the professor/lab director)
  • Print out a list with all the TAs phone numbers, email addresses, discussion sessions and office hours schedule
  • Request the enrollment of the course in Blackboard (if the class will use Blackboard)
  • Post the office hours schedule on Blackboard
  • Inquire about the professor’s logistical needs during class. Some big auditoriums have their own audiovisual systems, and there is usually a separate office that needs to be contacted in order to set up the audiovisual system (see the related Supporting a Professor’s lectures section)
  • Know what to do if the audiovisual equipment breaks down (e.g. who to call)
  • Ask the professor whether she will want to see a breakdown of grades across the whole class before returning papers or exams (or afterwards)
  • Contact a previous lead TA for the class and ask about any special requirements, preferably week-by-week
  • Write down a week-by-week breakdown with reminders for each week’s event (e.g. paper assignment due, paper turn-in, midterm exam etc.)
  • Ask the professor how much input you and the other TAs are expected to have in devising the exam questions

In the case of some science classes, many of these tasks will be performed by the laboratory director. However, in the humanities and the arts you will be expected to check on all these issues yourself. If nobody mentions anything about one of the items on the list, make sure to ask!

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