Working With a Faculty Supervisor (What if Things Aren't Going Well?)

While the expectations of faculty supervisors vary, you will be well served by the following suggestions:

  • Communicate with the course’s supervising professor often. 
  • Make sure you and your supervisor understand and agree to your responsibilities.  Working together, the supervising faculty and the graduate TA should complete a Statement of Mutual Responsibilities for Teaching Assistants to clarify what is expected of you in this role.  More information about this can be found in the Graduate Catalog's Policies for Graduate Assistantships.  
  • Familiarize yourself with all course materials, including the syllabus, course policies, and any supplementary guides.  Review them often.
  • While you may not be required to attend the professor’s lecture, it is a good idea to do so, particularly if you are responsible for leading discussion sections that amplify the material covered in lecture.
  • Take advantage of the expertise of colleagues who have served as GTAs.  Review available teaching files and ask senior colleagues questions.
  • Bring serious problems to the supervisor’s attention.

What if things are not going well?

  • If problems arise in your work with a faculty member, consult the Graduate Catalog's Policies for Graduate Assistantships for details about how to resolve conflicts.
  • Don’t talk to your undergraduate students about any of the difficulties you are having with the professor.  It is unprofessional to discuss problems you are having with students whom you teach.
  • Be careful with whom you discuss problems.  You want to maintain professionalism.  Other graduate students may have been in a similar situation and able to offer advice or support but you want to be mindful not to fuel departmental gossip.
  • Find an outlet for the stress you may be under if the relationship with your faculty member is not going well.  The Counseling Center is an excellent resource. 
  • Do contact the graduate student Ombuds Officer if you have serious concerns.  Any conversation you have with the Ombuds Office is confidential.