Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need to attend the GTA Workshop?  It is a law in the state of Missouri that all Graduate Teaching Assistants meet a minimum language requirement -- we use the SPEAK test to prove this -- and receive cultural training -- we use the GTA Workshop to meet this requirement.    If you do not attend and pass the GTA Workshop, you cannot be paid as a GTA.   But I am a native English speaker?  Because it’s the law that ALL GTAs must  pass the Workshop.  Even Americans occasionally fail.

Do I have to attend all the Workshop activities?  Yes.  If you do not, you will be dropped from the Workshop and cannot be paid as a GTA.  You must attend all of the workshop activities to meet the law mentioned above.  There are no exceptions to this requirement.  It is the law.

Does the Workshop have a dress code?  We have no special dress code for the Workshop and practice presentation.  For the Final Assessment, however, we require you to wear “business casual”.   Consider this a job interview.  You will want to look your professional best, but you don’t need a business suit.  We suggest a professonial look – slacks or nice jeans (no rips!) and a collared or polo shirt for men (no t-shirts).  Women, if you wear a skirt, make sure it is not too short.  Again, we suggest slacks or nice jeans, and a nice shirt, sweater or jacket – nothing too low, too tight or see through, nothing with distracting writing on it.   And you want your audience to listen to you, not be distracted by what you are wearing.

Where do I find the schedules for the practice presentation and the final assessment?  You will find the schedules in canvas please make sure you accept the canvas invite to the GTA Workshop when sent.  The schedules will also be  posted outside the classrooms. .

How do I choose my presentation topic?  Can I choose any topic for the presentation?  Yes and no.  It should be a topic that is related to the field of your department, possibly one you might actually teach.  Please make sure that the presentation is very simple – you must know your audience and you must stay within 8 – 10 minutes.  Be sure to time your presentation before you get to the practice presentation and practice it several times as well.  You will lose points for presentations that are too short or are longer than 10 minutes or too ambitious or complicated.  Pick one small subject that you know very well.   We already know you are smart, you don’t have to prove it to us during the presentation.  You may want to check out this link on our website:  PRESENTATIONS

Can I do a PowerPoint presentation?  NO!!!  But you may use PowerPoint as a visual aid for your presentation.  We have very strongly held opinions on what should or should not be done with PowerPoint – see our tips on the website.   Best Practices of PowerPoint   Your slides should be simple with very few words on them. Pictures, diagrams, and cartoons are perfect for slides.  Paragraphs are not.  Do not read from your slides.  Slides should have only the most important words or labels written on them.  If you are an international student, you may wish to enhance your listener’s comprehension by putting the key words or phrases that you are using so it is clearer to your audience. Experts suggest using a paper handout with your slides and put all the details you want in the handout – saving the slides for minimum detail.  With PowerPoint slides, always remember, LESS IS MORE.

How is my practice presentation different than my final presentation?  Your practice presentation is an 8 - 10 minute presentation that you give to a staff member and several of your colleagues and they will critique your performance.   It is recorded for your learning benefit.  After you have received the comments intended to better your presentation, you will refine the same presentation and give it again, but even better, in the final presentation.  Go to Presentations for more info.

How do I see my practice presentation?  When your practice session is done, you can watch it via Panopto recordings in Canvas.  PLEASE – try to watch this with at least one other person in the Workshop – peer input is very valuable!!!  Go to canvas and sign in. GTA Workshop is an organization.  Go to Panopto recordings on far left, (allow for popups), find your presentation.

What’s involved with the final assessment?   The final assessment will take less than half an hour.  A faculty member of your department, a faculty staff member, and at least two undergraduate students will assess your final presentation.  You will also be instructed to introduce yourself and your topic; there will be some questions and a role play.  Your ability to communicate well in a variety of situations as a GTA will impact your final grade.

When do I get my final assessment grade?   Please note we have a lot of assessments to type in a very short amount of time.  When yours is done, we will email it to you, your department chair and office support personal  to process payroll paperwork.  It will be done before midnight on the day you do the final assessment.  Please be patient.

What happens if I fail the Workshop?  If you do not pass the Workshop, your assessment form will tell you what you need to do in order to be reassessed.  Usually it will say that you need to take the ACS Class taught by  Lucy Sutcliffe.   Once you have completed this requirement, you may sign up for the Workshop and take it again.   Again, you may not be paid as a GTA if you have not passed the GTA Workshop.

What is the SPEECH 3001 Class?  Speech 3001 is a graduate humanitites class offered as any other class through Joe SS and the registrar.  Dr. Lance Haynes, professor of Speech,  this class is  especially for international students and it is a good way to enhance your English speaking skills.  (Speech & Media Studies 3001- please sign up through JoesSS.  The class is three credit hour of humanities).


What’s the best way to successfully complete the Workshop?  Pay attention to what the different instructors say.  Find what works for you.  Look through the website  Ask questions if you have them.  Follow the directions you are given.      

 Here are a few testimonials from previous workshops’ surveys. All comments are direct quotes from students and have not been edited.

“One can learn many things we need to know before teaching.”

 “It helps a lot to international students to understand the students and class room situations here in USA.”

“It's really very helpful both classroom and out of class effective communication and social integration.”

“It sets a fairly good base.” 

“You get feedback on your teaching methods which is helpful.” 

“It is not only necessary for TAs but I think every foreign graduate student should attend it because it help me understand how to study here in US not only how to teach.” 

“It helps you to learn how to handle a class.” 

“You need it to get paid.” 

“Good experience, it is really helpful.”  

“Seeing there are very different ways of teaching that are actually used was very relieving.  It made me feel like I do actually have some room to teach class the way I think it should be tailored to that class." 

"We are the first teachers that student really interact with on campus, and so we need to be intensely award of how we are interacting with student and how we come across to them." 

"The importance in building a good relationship with students."