faculty members, we need to provide TAs with the information they need
to succeed as teachers. In my role as Director of Basic Spanish Instruction,
I have found that written policies and suggestions for effective teaching
are crucial additions to our four-day workshop/orientation each August.
For this reason, in collaboration with several TAs in our program, I
have co-authored three handbooks: the Spanish TA Handbook, the
Spanish Preceptor Handbook, and the Testing Handbook: Everything
You Wanted to Know About Language Testing But Were Afraid to Ask.
Spanish TA Handbook, which TAs receive before arriving at the
University, provides information about language teaching and offers
suggestions for the first day of class, lesson planning, testing, teaching
the four language skills, and helping students with specific learning
disabilities. We also include information about University resources
and references to professional works that TAs may wish to consult.
second handbook is designed for course directors or head TAs, called
"preceptors" in our department. The preceptor in charge of
each of the eight courses in our basic language program designs the
syllabus, directs test preparation, and observes other TAs' classes.
The Spanish Preceptor Handbook thoroughly describes these duties
and includes information on add-drop and troubleshooting, as well as
sample forms standard in the department.
language testing handbook provides basic tenets of language test design,
types of test items (including samples in the appendices), and grading.
The handbook also specifies the physical layout of a test and outlines
departmental procedures for creating a test outline, drafting a test,
and producing the final test to be administered.
might you create handbooks for TAs in your department? Here's one possibility:
After surveying handbooks from other language programs, I devised a
master outline for each handbook, including the goals of our program
and the specific sections needed. A memo to our TAs asked for volunteers
to work in collaboration as co-authors of these handbooks. After one
TA was appointed as editor of each handbook, we met, delegated the various
sections, drafted and edited them, then compiled and distributed them
to the entire staff. First released in Summer 1990, the Spanish TA
Handbook and the Spanish Preceptor Handbook have been recently
revised to reflect changes in procedures and improvements in the administration
of the basic program. The language testing handbook was developed in
encourage faculty members who handle TA staffing or supervision to develop
similar handbooks for their departments, particularly when TAs teach
multisection courses. A handbook not only provides a wealth of information
but is also a written record of your program goals and necessary procedures.
Because it can be mailed in advance to new TAs before they arrive on
Grounds, a departmental handbook can help alleviate the anxiety that
new teachers inevitably feel and will save you time with details later.
To consult the Spanish Department handbooks, stop by the Teaching Resource
Center. To get funding for your own handbook, consider a TA Development