Teaching Continuity at Caltech  /  TA Resources  /  TA'ing Online 101

TA'ing Online 101

While most recitations are expected to be in person, if instruction moves online or your Option/Division indicate that your recitations will be online, you can useZoom videoconferencing.

Check out the whiteboard tablet tools (pro tip: have your whiteboard separately 'join' your Zoom session and share screen) and polling features in Zoom. You may also want to use the 'chat box' feature and the 'raise hand' feature. Be sure to orient your students to these during your first recitation meeting!

  • Check out this great Zoom training webinar, which gives pro tips for using Zoom for educational purposes.
  • Co-teach where possible. Depending on your course structure, it may be possible to co-teach recitations. Having each other for instructional and technical support may help to mitigate any issues that arise. One TA could be in charge of the instruction, while another TA can play a support role in terms of technology, responding to questions in the discussion forum, or fielding questions for the instructional TA to respond to in real-time.

For more ideas about conducting recitations, check out our YouTube Playlist, featuring experienced Caltech TAs.

Zoom videoconferencing may be used for office hours online. Google Hangouts is another alternative.

For individual office hours in smaller classes, there is a 'waiting room' function that you can use in Zoom. Alternatively, you can let all students into office hours at the beginning, and use 'breakout rooms' to send students with questions on similar topics/problems to work together, and then check in on different groups to help them out periodically.

TAs can also create a sign-up form for students with individual or small group time slots. Small groups can be arranged by topics or problems about which they have questions, and/or by time.

Some very large courses are organizing office hours via discussion boards in Canvas or Piazza: students propose a topic or question and set up a Zoom link, through which other students and a TA can join at a specified time.

Office hours can also be recorded to share afterward with students.

Zoom licenses:

  • A basic Zoom license is available to all Caltech students
  • A Pro Zoom license is available to all current TAs that allows unlimited time for meetings.

For more ideas about holding office hours remotely, check out our YouTube Playlist, featuring experienced Caltech TAs.

The instructor of your course may have chosen Canvas, Gradescope or another option for assigning, submitting or grading assignments and problem sets online. Find out about all of these options in Technology and Tools.

For more ideas about grading and giving effective feedback, check out our YouTube Playlist, featuring experienced Caltech TAs.

Tips for planning:

  1. Communicate often with your Instructional Team. Develop a communication plan for your instructional team (co-instructors, head TA, TAs, support staff). Decide when and how often you will meet, who will be in charge of organizing and facilitating those meetings and what pre-work should be done before meetings. Check out this resource for further ideas and a template plan.
  2. Clearly delineate TA roles. Make sure that you have a clear idea of what their roles and responsibilities are. If you are unclear, ask! For example, between you, fellow TAs and the professor, who is in charge of responding to student emails? Who is in charge of responding to student questions in the discussion forum? Who is in charge of uploading assignments to Canvas? Who is holding office hours or recitations, and how/when? How will grading be handled?

For more ideas about teaching remotely, check out our YouTube Playlist, featuring experienced Caltech TAs.