To prepare the new teaching assistants for the summer semester, the Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT-JI) held the 2015 Summer TA Orientation Conference at the University of Michigan- Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute (UM-SJTU JI) on May 16, 2015.

The action-packed day kicked off early in the morning. In his opening remark, Dr. Gang Zheng, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, emphasized the TAs’ important role of bridging the faculty and students, which is a privilege as well as a responsibility. He encouraged the TAs to pay attention to homework grading, insist on English communication, uphold the honor code and assure JI’s teaching quality.
Mr. Roger Han, JI’s Laboratory Manager, briefed the TAs about laboratory regulations, especially safety issues.

Then based on their needs, the TAs learned about the nitty-gritty of a TA’s job by attending one of the three practical workshops, i.e., “Sakai use,” “Grading homework and examination,” and “Motivating students to learn on their own.”

The most popular faculty/staff panel was opened by humorous Professor Shane Johnson and joined by Gang Zheng, Thomas Hamade, Jing Liu, Nick Welch-Bolen, Victor J. Rodriguez, and Thomas Bowden who shared their views on “TAs’ rights and responsibilities.” The TAs appreciated it greatly when instructors and staff come together to share insights and answer TAs’ questions.

During the practical training, the TAs worked in teams to tackle four sticky issues such as “How to establish effective teaching relationship,” “To communicate with students by QQ or email,” “How to satisfy students’ different levels of need,” and “How to handle students’ unreasonable requests.”  After discussions, each team presented their solution by acting out a skit. The judge panel consisting of Thomas Hamade, Andrew Yang and experienced TAs gave comments and awarded four winning teams and best team members.


Thomas Hamade, Andrew Yang, and 2015 winning teams and best team members


Gang Zheng, Thomas Hamade, Victor J. Rodriguez, and 2015 outstanding TAs


Thomas Hamade, Andrew Yang, and outstanding TAs over the years

The Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT-JI) has been sponsoring the TA Orientation Conference twice a year (at the beginning of the summer and fall semester) over the last nine years. The unique TA training program is a brand of JI, serving to facilitate TA’s extraordinary job in assisting the faculty and students and assure JI’s teaching excellence.