TF/CAs are often required to handle administrative matters relevant to the course that they are assisting. Attending to these details can be surprisingly time consuming. Look to your program administrator for advice. Ask more experienced TF/CAs for help if necessary. Resources are available to help ­­ this section is designed to point you in the right direction.

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Ordering Books

In most cases, the instructor will handle book orders several months before the course begins. Forms are normally distributed by the bookstore to each department and then passed along to instructors. If you have your assignment early, the instructor may ask for your help in ordering books.

  • Be sure that you have a complete list of materials to order.

  • Be sure to return them to the bookstore by the appropriate deadlines.

  • If something on the list is out­of­print or unavailable, notify the instructor immediately.

  • Indicate whether you want the materials in hard or soft cover.

  • Be sure to check that all course materials have arrived before the course starts.

  • In some cases, many instructors in the same department may use a standard text. Check to see if your program has a special agreement with the publisher or if the books are all ordered together.

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Requesting Desk Copies

For courses that you are assisting, it is often possible to obtain desk copies of materials free of charge from the publisher. Speak to the course instructor about ordering desk copies. In many cases, program administrators can provide you with standard forms on Brandeis letterhead designed for that purpose. They may also help you to obtain publishers’ addresses.

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Getting an Office

GSAS will assign office space for TFs in many Arts and Sciences departments. A $5 key deposit is required for all office assignments. TFs will be emailed office location and key pick up information once all office assignments have been made (usually no later than mid-September). TFs who do not receive an email from GSAS should contact their department administrator at the beginning of the semester regarding their assigned office location and hours. Office assignments will not necessarily stay the same for the fall and spring semesters, even if you are continuing as a TF from one term to the next. There is limited office space on campus, and it will likely be necessary for you to share an office with one or more colleagues.

There are two designated graduate student areas that also provide space to work and study: the Graduate Student Center on the main floor of Kutz Hall and the Graduate Study Lounge (Gerstenzang, room 134) in the Science Quad. Both centers have public computers reserved for graduate student use. The Gerstenzang Study Lounge is a quiet work and study space.

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Classrooms

The Office of the University Registrar is responsible for assigning all general University-shared classrooms for classes and some academic events. Classroom assignments are made prior to the start of the semester and are based on current or projected enrollment, accessibility, and the educational technology needs as requested by the instructor. Most classrooms have technology with standard equipment (data projection, PC, and DVD). Small classrooms may have data projection with laptop connections. Instructors using VHS should d contact Media Technology Services (MTS) to digitize or arrange streaming of the material. During the add/drop period at the start of the semester, instructors may find that additional seating is needed to accommodate students who are ‘shopping’ (i.e., attending but not officially enrolled in) the class. If additional seats are needed, please contact your department administrator who will work with the registrar’s office to try to make an adjustment. If you feel that you need to cap enrollment, those requests must be made through your department chair to the Dean of Arts and Sciences. Please note, the Registrar may need to impose a cap if the course enrollment approaches or exceeds the seating capacity of the assigned room. Section rooms (e.g., discussion sections) will be assigned after the start of classes on a space available basis. Classroom scheduling requests are expected to be in block. Please email scheduling@brandeis.edu with questions about classroom assignments or usage.

  • To report a non-emergency facility problem (heat/AC, lighting, etc.) or classroom seating issues, please contact your department administrator, who will contact the Registrar’s Office.

  • For classroom equipment problems, information on what equipment is available in classrooms, or for general assistance with AV equipment, contact MTS, x6-4739 or x6-4429 or

  • For classroom equipment instructions: http://lts.brandeis.edu/courses/classroom_instructions.html.  

  • For information on what equipment is available in our cluster classrooms: http://lts.brandeis.edu/location/labs/index.html.  

  • For LTS faculty resources including LATTE: http://lts.brandeis.edu/courses/courseprep.html.  

  • To reserve a classroom for an event, please contact Conference & Events Services, x6-4300.

  • If you are locked out of your classroom during a weekday, contact Facilities, x6-8500.

  • If you are locked out of your classroom during the evening or on a weekend, contact Public Safety, x6-3333.

  • For non-urgent safety concerns, contact Public Safety, x6-5000.

  • To report a safety emergency, contact Public Safety, x6-3333.

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Ordering Materials and Supplies

Most materials you will need are available in your program/department office including lab supplies, blue books for exams, maps, slides, and other supplies. If there is no chalk/erasers or whiteboard markers in your classroom, ask your program administrator.

In many cases, labs require special equipment and supplies. Instructors and program administrators can help you to obtain what you need.

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Photocopying, Duplication and Scanning

Each program sets its own guidelines for copying privileges. In some cases, TF/CAs are free to photocopy using "program" copy cards or copy machines in program offices. In others, copy cards are obtained from the instructor.

Large orders of printed materials can be copied at the Copy Center, lower­level Usdan, 781-736-­4530. This requires a requisition form available from your program administrator. Be aware of the regulations governing copyrights before you duplicate materials. In some cases, the library will arrange for a limited number of copies of course materials for reserve use.

TF/ CAs may visit The Instructional Technology Resource Center (ITRC), Library Faculty Scanning Center, or Information Commons in the Main Library to scan course materials. Instructions on how to use the scanners are provided and extra help is available at the Computer Help Desk.

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Registration and Course Enrollment

Each student is responsible for managing his/her class schedule and therefore must add and drop classes as necessary, either using the registration system on SAGE or by completing add/drop forms and having them processed at the Registrar's Office, Kutz 121. An instructor may not add or drop students from a class in SAGE. A student's official enrollment resides in SAGE and not LATTE.

Early registration is held in October/ November for the spring semester and March/April for the fall semester. After early registration, departments and the dean's office review courses that are under-enrolled, as well as over-enrolled, to determine what action should be taken. A class drawing fewer than eight students may be canceled, unless special approval from the dean's office is granted.

Registration opens on SAGE again at the start of each semester. Students are expected to be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits per semester. Please see the Academic Calendar on the Registrar's website for the dates of both the early registration and registration periods.

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Waitlists During Early Registration

During the early registration period (for the following spring or fall semester) and during summer freshman registration for fall term, the waitlist function is activated for all classes that are controlled by a numeric limit. Once a class is closed, the student is given an option of placing his/her name on the waitlist. At the end of the registration period, the lists are sent to the dean’s office, the academic department, and class instructor for review. Additional sections for a course may be mounted or an instructor may be asked to increase the capacity of his/her class.

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Consent Codes During Registration

A consent code may be used in SAGE by a student who has permission of the instructor to: (1) add a class which has reached its numeric capacity; (2) add a class that requires instructor consent; (3) drop a class in accordance with the drop policy. Explanation of consent codes, course drop policy, and other sage-related procedures can be obtained by going to the sage log-in page and selecting ‘User Guides.’

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Final Exams

A study period of one or two days precedes final exams. Examinations, lectures, or any other mandatory activity may not be scheduled during the study period.

A tentative final exam schedule is posted on the Registrar's website a year in advance. This tentative exam schedule is solely based on class time blocks and common exams but provides no indication as to whether a specific class will be scheduled for a final exam during Finals Week. Instructors convey their intention via the Final Exam Planning page in SAGE. For those requesting a scheduled final, this page also provides a mechanism for instructors to request exam proctors, examination blue books, classroom preferences, and equipment needs. Instructors are notified when the Exam Planning page becomes accessible in SAGE.

In order to minimize the number of students with exam conflicts, i.e., two exams scheduled for the same time, it's not unusual for the Registrar's Office to move several classes to a different exam period. These adjustments are made before the official final exam schedule is posted on the Registrar's home page. Classes having a final exam that fall outside the class block system are assigned an exam period.

University policy prohibits instructors from giving a final exam to individual students before the scheduled exam. If a student is unable to sit for an exam at the scheduled time, the student needs to see his/her academic advisor in Academic Services and discuss the possibility of an excused absence. Approved make-up exams are administered either during the Conflict Resolution exam period (i.e., the last exam period during Finals Week) or during the make-up exam period at the beginning of the following semester. Legitimate reasons for excused absences include illness and family emergencies. Students are expected to remain on campus for all of their exams; early travel plans are not an acceptable excuse and may result in being denied a make-up exam.

Students who are scheduled to take two exams at the same time are identified by the Registrar's Office before the Final Exam Schedule is posted online. These students are notified via email and informed which exam is being rescheduled to the Conflict Resolution period. Students who are scheduled to take three exams in three contiguous exam periods within a 24-hour period may opt to have one of the exams postponed to Conflict Resolution, pending approval of the instructor.

Instructors, with the help of their teaching fellows, are expected to administer their own exams and be available during the exam in order to answer questions and assist students. In the event that an outside academic commitment (e.g., professional conference) prevents an instructor from attending a final exam, s/he should plan to have either his/her teaching fellow proctor the exam or make arrangements with a colleague to fill in. The Registrar’s Office does not proctor such an exam.

Some students will have special exam accommodations that have been approved by the Office of Student Accessibility Services which can include extra time on exams, a low distraction exam environment, and/or the use of a laptop. For more information please contact Student Accessibility Services, a division of Academic Services located in the Usdan Student Center.

Final examinations are to be retained by the instructor for six months and not given back to students during this time period.

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Grading

Midterm and final grades are submitted in SAGE by the primary instructor. Teaching Fellows may be granted access to enter grades in SAGE by the primary instructor. Midterm grades are typically due in October and March and are only required if a student is performing unsatisfactorily.

Final grades are due shortly after the end of the semester. However, grades for seniors have special deadlines. Please be sure to check the academic calendar on the Registrar's website for grade due dates.

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Syllabus

Students should be provided with a written explanation of the requirements for the course and the basis for assigning grades.

The syllabus outlines exam schedules, reading lists, office hours, and expectations of students.

The attendance policy and a statement about the rights of students with disabilities should be included on the syllabus. Instructors may require students to attend all classes.

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Deadlines

Administrative deadlines are included in the Academic Calendar. If you have any questions, consult the course instructor or the Office of Academic Services, 781-736-­3470, if necessary.

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Documenting Your Teaching Experience

The TF/CAs position is a transitional one. Just as your graduate work trains you to enter your field as a qualified researcher, your work as a TF/CA prepares you to enter the academic with teaching experience. Experiences that you have gained can help you in your job search. Documenting your experience as you go along will alleviate last minute rushing to prepare materials when you are ready to enter the job market. Keeping track of your experiences and reviewing them periodically will also help you to mature as a teacher and improve your skills.

As a TF/CA, you may function in a variety of classroom settings. The following suggestions for how to document your experiences to create a teaching portfolio or for use in support of your professional development may not apply to all of you, but we see it as a comprehensive list of the kind of evidence it is possible to gather about your teaching experiences.

  • Ask students to complete a midterm evaluation. This will allow you to adjust your teaching techniques to maximize effectiveness and provide a written evaluation of your teaching effectiveness. Save .pdf copies of these evaluations from SAGE.

  • Video­recording a class is an effective way to demonstrate your teaching abilities to a prospective employer. A free video recording service is offered through the Media Technology Services department in the Main Library.

  • Record your experiences, positive or negative, in a personal log. Refer back to them as often as possible.

  • Keep copies of all materials that you design or prepare for your courses (e.g. handouts, tests, paper assignments, group exercises). Be prepared to discuss them in detail, explaining why you chose the format that you did.

  • Keep a record of any innovative strategies that you have used in the classroom. Note whether they were successful and why they did or did not work well.

  • Make sure that faculty advisors, and the instructors with whom you are teaching, are aware of your future plans.

  • Be visible. Arrange for an observation of your section or lecture. Keep any written evaluations by peers or instructors.

  • Maintain a file of professional contacts— people who you meet at conferences, workshops, labs, archives, etc.

  • Keep a record of any pedagogy conferences, workshops, or other events that you have attended. Save programs, notes, etc.

  • Keep up with professional journals. Several now include sections with innovative teaching strategies specific to your discipline.

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Building Your Teaching Dossier

In most cases, your program will maintain your teaching dossier along with your academic file. Contact your program administrator.

  • Keep your file up­to­date. Request teaching recommendations from instructors at the end of the semester when the experience is fresh. Do not wait several years until you need the letters to find a job; the faculty member may be hard to track down or unavailable.

  • When approaching a faculty member or program chair for a teaching recommendation, be specific and explain what aspects of your teaching experience you would like the writer to highlight. Stress that you want a teaching recommendation and not a general academic letter of support.

  • Your dossier should reflect the breadth of your experience. Try to include information on your performance with several professors, in various situations, and in different roles (e.g. as a section leader in a large introductory course, in a lab as a lecturer, or in an upper level course.)

  • Letters should be filed directly through your program administrator. Do not attempt to handle them yourself.

  • If possible, furnish your department with a written request for distribution of your dossier well in advance of your deadline. Be specific about which materials you would like to see included in anything that they send out.

  • Check periodically with your program administrator to ensure that all materials you expect are actually on file. You may need to request something again from an instructor or referee.

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University Prize Instructorships

In some programs, graduate students are encouraged or even expected to teach their own classes during their course of study. Other programs only offer opportunities for TFs to support faculty members. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences now offers its students the chance to develop and teach upper-level courses for undergraduates in their area of interest or specialization through the GSAS University Prize Instructorship program.

GSAS students interested in teaching their own courses submit course proposals to be evaluated by a multi-disciplinary committee. Prize instructorships are awarded on a competitive basis. Details and applications for this teaching prize are posted annually on the GSAS website during the fall semester.

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Outstanding Teaching Awards

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences sponsors an annual award ceremony at which outstanding Teaching Fellow(s) and/or Course Assistant(s) are honored. The award recipients receive a certificate from the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in recognition of his/her outstanding contribution to undergraduate teaching. GSAS solicits nominations for these awards during the spring semester. Not all departments participate.