Before the term starts
is the best time to get accustomed to the course, as you haven't started to stress about other things yet! As a result, there a couple of things you will want to make sure you do:
On the administration side
make sure that you visit the ever helpful Undergraduate Program Assistant to complete the tax and payment forms for your position. They can also provide you with a copy of your Teaching Support Staff Union's (TSSU) logbook and contract which are important to have (more on that in the Your Rights section).
If your course has a specific text (or series of them), the Undergraduate Program Assistant will have copies for you. You will find out the course text situation when meeting your instructor.
Meeting the instructor
— if possible — should happen before the term starts. It helps to do this before the beginning of classes as it gives you a bit of extra time to prepare for the course. During your meeting with the instructor, you want to make sure to have a clear understanding of the purpose of the course, what will be covered, and — perhaps most importantly — establish your role for the course.
As part of your role, the instructor should provide you with a set of lab instructions and, or, materials for the things that will be covered in the labs themselves. If you ever have any questions about these outlines, do not hesitate to bring it up with your instructor as it means you'll likely do better in delivering it in the end.
It is a good idea in this meeting to also establish a time for your office hours and to meet on a weekly basis. Weekly instructional team meetings means that you can check-in about issues, as well as bring up any questions on what is coming up next.
On your own
spend some time getting comfy with the course materials. You want to make sure that you have a good overview of the purpose of the course as well as have started to look at the materials for the first week. If you have any questions, this is a good time to pose them.
To prepare for the term
use a checklist! Have you finished the following items?
With the Undergraduate Program Assistant:
- Filled out the payroll forms for the term
- Signed the contract for your position
With the instructor:
- Got a clear understanding of the course
- Have access to materials being taught in the course
- Established your role in the course
- Established a time for office hours
- Established a time for instructional team meetings
On your own:
- Reviewed the overview of the course
- Have a general sense of what you will be required to do as a TA
- Started to look at the first week's outline
Don't forget to check your checklist with your instructor!