TA Training / Resource – UCSB Dept. of Art


Jeff Page, MFA 2015
Artist-in-Residence 2015-16


I am your resource this quarter regarding TA questions, issues and advice.   Email me or call me with questions, problems etc.  Need ideas for what to do during your section?  Dealing with students’ emotional problems? Feel free to contact me with all of this stuff for this Fall Quarter.


Everyone has their own style but I have found that if you “lay down the law” the first two weeks of class and show the students that you mean what you say and you have strict rules that you follow, they will be FAR less likely to try and take advantage of you, slide by with poor work etc.


It is not required to write up your own syllabus at all for your section but this can help provide extra, focused structure and help manage expectations for the class. You can reiterate the attendance policy here which is always helpful.  Sample Syllabus Here


The sooner your classroom connects and feels comfortable with you and with each other, the further you explore ideas and the more interesting the class becomes for everyone.  Some people do some sort of icebreaker for the first 10 minutes of every class, all quarter.  This really does work at getting students engaged and connect with each other.  To save you time you can assign groups of students to each week and give them the responsibility for coming up with the icebreaker for that week.

Icebreakers ideas:

  • Go around the room and share a weird fact that no one knows about where you are from.
  • Eye contact exercise.
  • Mirroring exercise.
  • Look up other exercises for actors.


Class is only really engaging for you and for the students when everyone is participating in discussions.  Of course, the vibe of every class is different so just getting them talking can be extremely challenging.  Here are just a few things I’ve had success with:

  • Sit at the table (at the same level with them) to encourage a comfortable, conversational tone to the section.
  • Stand  at the board and write down questions that were raised from  the readings or lectures and have the class come up with answers to those questions and write them all down.  If you stand at the board with a question and blank space they are compelled to shout out answers and help you fill it up.
  • Splitting them into smaller groups to come up with answers to a few questions or ideas from the class really initiates engagement from EVERYONE and helps the class get to know one another more effectively.
  • More ideas here


  • On first day of class divide the class into the 8 or 9 groups  (based on number of weeks they have readings assigned) and assign readings from each week to a group.  Each week a group will present those readings in a 10-15 minute PPT format and kickstart discussion.