General Information for Graduate Teaching Assistants

IMPORTANT DEADLINES

Pay attention to the various deadlines in the official UNC Charlotte academic calendar, in particular the following deadlines if you are planning to graduate.

  • Deadline for graduate students to file candidacy form
  • Deadline for graduate students to apply for graduation
  • Doctoral dissertation initial formatting consultation deadline
  • Doctoral dissertation defense deadline
  • Last day to submit doctoral dissertations to Graduate School
  • Master's thesis initial formatting consultation deadline
  • Master's thesis defense deadline
  • Last day to submit masters' theses to Graduate School

I. TEACHING

General Information

1.  Faculty Supervisor

If you have been given complete responsibility for teaching a course, you will be assigned an advisor from among the faculty, with whom you are required to meet throughout the semester as per the instructions of the advisor, who will visit your class at least twice during the semester. The faculty advisor along with the graduate coordinator is your resource for answers to any questions that may arise in regard to your teaching. The faculty advisor/teaching assistant relationship is a requirement for accreditation of the university, and these guidelines must be adhered to without exception.

2.  Maintaining Classroom Hours

You are required to meet every scheduled class for the full time period allotted to it, even if it is the first day of class.  It is your responsibility to start on time, to be fully prepared for each class, and to effectively use all class minutes as the case may be. Remember the first day of class is a real class.  You are expected to use the full class period accordingly. In particular, many students commute long distances to class and expect to receive the benefits of the full class for their efforts. If you cannot meet a class, make arrangements for a colleague to teach the class for you.  In addition, inform Dr. Kazemi of the substitution. A class may be canceled only in the case of a bona fide emergency in which obtaining a substitute is impossible.  If you cannot find a substitute, first ask for help from the graduate coordinator in finding a substitute.  If a course must be canceled, the department or the graduate coordinator must be contacted as early as possible so that your students can be informed. 

3.  Course Syllabus

Most of the courses you teach will have common syllabi which can be found in the Undergraduate section of the department website. The syllabus for the course, as provided by the department curriculum committee, must be adhered to in regard to both content of the course (that is, sections of the text covered and time spent on each topic) and to the number and timing of exams.  Any deviations from the syllabus, apart from those determined by the course coordinator, must be cleared with your faculty advisor and the Graduate Coordinator.

4.  Grading Records

You are required to maintain detailed records on student performance: grades on homework, quizzes, exams, and the final exam.  Some instructors think it’s a good idea to record student attendance each class period. On a particular student’s attendance you may be queried later; for example, the Veteran’s Administration requires attendance certification for its funded students. Keep class records for at least a year after the term is over, including the final exam. Students wanting to view the final exam can do so the next term, but in your office; do not give final exams to students. When your employment ends, box all class records, with separate classes in separate files, and give them to the coordinator’s secretary.

5.  Office Hours

Announce to your students regular office hours totaling not less than three hours each week, if you are teaching one course, and not less than five hours per week, if you are teaching two courses.  During these hours you should be available to help any student enrolled in your section (you are not obligated to help students in other sections, unless you want to).

6.  Classroom Comportment

Remember that your comportment in the classroom is a reflection on the university.  Thus it is important to dress in a manner appropriate to an instructor, to maintain a neat and clean appearance, and to use very little slang and no profanity.  More specific details on this matter, as well as how to set the tone in a classroom, the level of familiarity with students that is appropriate, and so on, are given in the two-hour teacher training seminar required of all new teaching assistants without prior teaching experience or training.

7.  Cheating

There is an official, university-wide policy for dealing with the matter of cheating on homework and exams, which is described in detail in a brochure available in the department. If you suspect cheating, it is best to consult with your faculty advisor and/or the graduate coordinator before taking any action.

8.  Teaching Assignments

The Associate Chair makes teaching assignments in cooperation with the Graduate Coordinator.  If you and another TA are assigned different sections of the same course to teach and you want to trade teaching assignments, you must get permission from the Associate Chair.  This must be settled before classes begin.  Do not consider changing course assignments without consulting the Associate Chair. 

9. Special Forms

For those of you who are teaching, please be very careful about signing forms that your students may bring to you, e.g. special request forms.  Please DO NOT SIGN forms dealing with early withdrawal, change of grade, etc. without consulting the Graduate Coordinator or the Associate Chairperson (Dr. Kazemi) regarding the case. 

A Few Learning Tips

Those of you who are teaching have already received detailed training in this regard through ELTI and/or the department’s Teacher Training Seminar, but here are a few basic points to always keep in mind:

  1. Make frequent eye contact with the audience.  Face them as much as possible when addressing them; don’t just talk at the board.  Talk slowly, confidently, and clearly.
  2. It is recommended that you don’t just use the book’s examples when lecturing, but use or add similar examples with different numbers and parameters.  Examples can be chosen, e.g. from the even-numbered problems in most textbooks.  Students want to see things done from a different perspective rather than just see the textbook written on the board.  They will also feel more confident when the techniques they are learning can be applied to an example they have not seen before.
  3. It is recommended that you spend the first 10-15 minutes of class going over the previous lecture’s homework assignment.  Make a habit of recommending a meaningful set of homework problems.
  4. Remember that confidence, enthusiasm, and a conveyed sense that you want to help them learn can go a long way toward developing a good rapport with the students and a positive classroom atmosphere. Make clear on your course information sheet the course expectations and methods of assessment.

Recitation Sections

If you are assigned to teach recitation sections, you will conduct up to three recitation or problem sections that meet once or twice a week in support of a large lecture service course, e.g. Math 1100.  Your immediate supervisor is the faculty instructor who conducts the lectures.  She/he will instruct you as to what problems will be covered each week and will assign you to grade selected homework problems, quizzes, and/or in-class tests. He may also assign you to hold office hours.  Generally, the instructor will require you to attend the lectures and meet with her/him on a weekly basis.  Your responsibility for assisting the instructor runs through the end of final exam week.

Grading

1.  Grading Assignments

The Graduate Coordinator makes grader/tutor assignments based on departmental needs and obligations. Generally, there is very little flexibility in these assignments. If you are assigned as a grader for a given professor or instructor for X hours per week, go by to see her/him as soon as possible to tell him/her who you are, and to confirm the course for which you are grading for her/him, and the number of hours you have been assigned.  S/he will have received the same information already, and will explain the duties that s/he has in mind for you.  Please ask your instructor about the need for assisting with tests and check on the dates.

2.  Grading Workload

It is the responsibility of the professor or instructor for whom you are grading to arrange things so that your workload is even from week to week.  Unused hours are not to carry over to the following week, so that if s/he gives you 0 hours of work to do this week, your workload for next week is still X hours, not 2X hours. If the professor or instructor does not adhere to this workload policy, please refer the matter to the Graduate Coordinator, who will then discuss the matter with the professor or instructor on your behalf.

3.  Grading Responsibility

Your responsibility for grading may run through the end of final exam week.  In particular, you may be required to grade final exams or other papers during the week you yourself are taking final exams.  You may need to budget your time in advance accordingly.

Tutoring

1.  Center for Academic Excellence (CAE)

If you are assigned to tutor for the Center for Academic Excellence, you are to report to Haley Hunt (phone x76032) as soon as possible.  She will be your supervisor for that portion of your work assignment, and will explain to you the procedures there, and what your duties and responsibilities will be.

2.  Mathematics Learning Center (MLC)

If you are assigned to work in the Mathematics Learning Center (Fretwell 315), then you are to report to the Graduate Coordinator as soon as possible, who is in charge of the operation of the Mathematics Learning Center, and will be your supervisor for that portion of your work assignment.

3.  Maintaining Tutoring Hours

Whether you tutor for the MLC or the CAE, you must be there at the assigned times and for the entire time assigned (other than the occasional 5-10 minute break taken during times when you are not busy, and then only in consultation with your colleagues).  If you can’t make one of your tutoring periods due to a bona fide emergency, you must contact the graduate coordinator as much IN ADVANCE as possible, and work with the graduate coordinator to find a substitute if possible.  In the MLC, if there are many more students than tutors, try to organize the students into groups by course and tutor each group as a whole, answering 2-3 questions at a time and then circulating through the room. Your MLC responsibilities run through the day just before Common Final Exam day.  Consult with Ms. Hunt for when your CAE duties end.

II: FINAL EXAMS

If you are teaching a course, check to see if your class has a common final exam.  If so, make sure you are aware of the date for the common final.  If your class does not have a common final exam, you are required to make up and give a final exam.  In either case, be sure to inform your students on your course information sheet of the date, time, and location of your final exam.

If you are assigned to a recitation section, you are required to assist the instructor you are working for in administering the final exam for that lecture.

All other TA’s are required to help the Associate Chair on Common Final Exam Day.

III: GETTING ON THE PAYROLL

In order to be paid you must go through the following procedure.  It is imperative that you take action on this immediately.  The university will not pay anyone who has not followed the correct procedure, in a timely fashion, for demonstrating her/his eligibility for employment.

1.  Social Security Number

If you do not already have a Social Security number (SSN), the International Student/Scholar Office (CHHS 202) has the forms you need to fill out, as well as directions for getting to the Social Security office as need be.

 2.  I-9 Form

  1. If you are a domestic student, see Teresa Shook (x 70671) in Student Employment (King 200A) and fill out Form I-9.  If you are an international student, see Denise Medeiros in the ISSO to fill out Form I-9.  You will need to bring documentation of your identity and eligibility to be employed, including your social security card or evidence that you have applied for one. Also, bring an identification card with your picture on it, such as a driver’s license, military ID, or passport.  You will complete forms to have the correct amount of Federal and State tax withheld from your pay.  (To the best of our knowledge, full-time students do not have to pay into the social security system.)
  2. Domestic students will be given a little yellow card from Ms. Shook certifying that they have filled out the I-9 form.  International students will be given a little blue card from Ms. Medeiros certifying that they have filled out the I-9 form.  Take a copy of your card to Ms. Quince Hinson, the Math & Stat Department Office Manager in Fretwell 376E, who will retain it in your department personnel records.

3.  Paychecks

Under most circumstances you will receive your first paycheck no later than August 31st, for which you are required to arrange for direct deposit through the payroll office. Your subsequent paychecks will come in the middle of and on the last day of each month for the eight succeeding months. Your last academic year paycheck will come on May 15 unless you ask me to make it April 30 or May 31.  (Note item 5 in the next section.) 

IV:  OTHER INFORMATION

1.  Department Secretaries

If you have not done so already, introduce yourself to the department secretaries.  These are the people who are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the department, so please show them every respect.  They can brief you on office procedures (e.g., getting exams duplicated), supplies available, and so on.  Get keys for your mailbox, your office, the department office, and the building from Ms. Quincey Hinson in the main office.

2.  TA and Course Work Commitment

The department regards your teaching assistantship, together with your course work, as a full-time commitment.  Outside activities for profit such as tutoring students for pay, should be limited to a maximum of about five hours or less per week.  In the case of tutoring, note that it is never appropriate to tutor (for pay) a student in a class that you teach. Also, it is a violation of University regulations to use University resources and rooms for private tutoring.

3.  Long-range Course Plan

Every semester when you register for classes and check in for advising, it is advisable that you have a long-range plan worked out several semesters ahead. Since many of our graduate courses are offered only every other year, it is imperative that not only the courses that you wish to take, but also the semesters in which you wish to take them, be planned in advance.

4.  Office Behavior

Observe the following rules of office behavior.  First, be respectful of your office mate(s) in regard to their studying and their office hours.  TA offices are not to be used as a meeting place for friends unless all other office mates are absent.  Second, musical devices should not be operated in principle except with headphones or when the owner is alone in the office.

5.  TA Pay Period/Summer Employment

Your Teaching Assistantship is a nine-month appointment.  Over the past summers we have been able to assign the vast majority of our teaching assistants summer school employment; the salary range per assignment is now $3000 - $3500.  The amount of work available has varied widely from summer to summer (based on enrollment and faculty activity), but has not necessarily been equal to the number of TA's. This means that you must budget your money during the regular school term so that you can get along, if necessary, without any financial support from the department the following summer. Foreign students whose visas generally do not allow them to be employed off campus during the summer must be particularly careful about this. The criteria used to determine who will receive summer support and the amount thereof from the Mathematics Department are financial need, academic performance, number of graduate hours completed, and availability of other options to the student. Note that having received support last summer is no guarantee of receiving support this summer. Note also that to qualify for a summer assistantship you must be registered for at least 1 course for that summer or that fall. Also, be as sure as possible if you want summer support and if so in which summer session you want to work.  

6.  Graduate Coordinator as TA Ombudsman

You should regard the Graduate Coordinator as an ombudsman on your behalf.  Any questions, concerns, problems, or complaints that cannot be resolved by other means may be directed to the graduate coordinator.

7.  Advancement to Candidacy/Application for Degree

Advancement to candidacy forms are available online at the Graduate School website. The Graduate Coordinator can also give you more detailed instructions regarding completing the form. Pay attention to various deadlines related to graduation; the ultimate responsibility is yours to keep abreast of the deadlines for the term in which you want to graduate.  

8.  Topic Approval Defenses and Thesis/Dissertation Defenses

In preparing to schedule a topic approval or thesis/dissertation defense, you must first see the Graduate Coordinator. If you are an MS Student, this must be done at least two weeks before the intended exam date; Ph.D. students working to make up their doctoral dissertation committee and apply for their qualifying exam must do this at least two months prior to the intended date. All such exams must be announced to the faculty, thus one reason for the above meeting is to arrange with the Graduate Coordinator to have this done. Do not schedule or report to any such exam until you have consulted with the Graduate Coordinator. In particular, unannounced exams will be in jeopardy of having their results nullified. Qualifying Exams should be taken as soon as possible after advance coursework has been completed; normally this would mean no later than the Spring semester of the third year or the Fall semester of the fourth year in the program. In any event the Qualifying Exam should be completed by the end of the third year following the Real Analysis sequence.

Ph.D. dissertations must be filed with the student's committee at least 3 weeks prior to the date of the thesis defense. Ph.D. students should approach the Graduate Coordinator at least three weeks prior to the defense as well so that the exact date can be communicated to the Department and the University community, and so that a copy of the dissertation can be placed in the Reading Room for faculty examination.

9.  Degree and Thesis/Dissertation-Filing Deadlines (PhD)

Be mindful of all deadlines for applying for degrees and for filing theses/dissertations. These are posted on the Academic Calendar on the UNC Charlotte website.

10. Other Degree Requirements

As a graduate student it is your responsibility to be familiar with the Academic Regulations and Degree Requirements section of the Graduate Catalog, as well as the Math Department's own degree requirements.

11. Time Limit and Good Standing Classification for Assistantships

The department policy is to limit assistantship support for a PhD student to 5 years, and 2.5 years for an MS student, unless a thesis (MS), dissertation (PhD) or project (MS) advisor writes a convincing letter to the Graduate Coordinator and Department Chair asking for an extension. PhD students who have been granted such an extension into their 6th year should be prepared to have an increased workload that could, for example, involve teaching 2 classes.

Please note also that GASP awards have a strict 5-year limit for PhD students, during which they need to be registered for 9 credit hours each semester. PhD students who have met all of their other course requirements can register for 9 credit hours of dissertation research each semester while on GASP support. In case a PhD student enters a 6th year of PhD enrollment, please note that the Graduate School has clarified their policy in this regard; such a student can be regarded as a full-time student while taking 6 credit hours, but it is a General Administration policy that a student be registered for at least 3 credit hours per term while continuing to use university resources. These include a TA office and computer as well as the library. Thus PhD students in the last year of their program and using university resources must be prepared to use their own resources to fund the tuition and fees for the 3 credit hours per term. PhD students in their last semester and providing their own support may register for the 1-credit hour GRAD 9999, but only if they already have their dissertation defense date scheduled.

Your assistantship will be renewed from year to year provided you are making good progress towards your degree. Good progress towards your degree means continuing registration and a GPA at or above 3.5 for a PhD student and 3.4 for a Masters student, and appropriate progress in doctoral research. TA’s who fall below this standard and do not regain this standard after a grace period of no less than one semester will be subject to competing with incoming students for an assistantship for the coming renewal period, generally the next academic year.

12. Faculty Lounge/Coffee Room

You are invited to use the coffee room lounge area whenever you wish, but please keep in mind that you should clean up after yourself.  Immediately after use, clean up all dirty dishes/spills, etc.  Leave the coffee room in a state at least as clean and tidy as you found it.  If you use the refrigerator, police your belongings regularly. Do not forget about or leave items in the refrigerator past their expiration date. 

13. Teacher Training Seminar/Teaching Expectations

In the semester in which a TA will complete 18 hours of graduate credit, she/he will be required to take the Math Department Teacher Training Seminar for 2 hours of participation per week.  Each TA is expected to pass the Teacher Training seminar and will be expected to teach according to the department needs and should be prepared to teach as much as the TA’s workload will allow.

14. Department Resources

Use departmental resources, e.g. copying machines, printers, fax, etc. responsibly.  Do not make extensive use of these for personal use.  Do not take paper from copiers or printers. Use Moodle whenever possible. Do not violate copyright laws. If you are involved in private tutoring (see TA and Course Work Commitment), you are not allowed to use university resources. Use e-mail to your class as much as possible for handouts.

15. UNC-Charlotte mail

Check your uncc.edu e-mail account on a regular basis. A number of   important departmental, graduate school, or university messages come through this source, often exclusively

16.  Remarks

This information was believed to be accurate on the date on which it was compiled.  If you discover that any of the information given here is now inaccurate, please tell the Graduate Coordinator so that this sheet can be properly updated.