Conference for York teaching assistants set for Feb. 18

York teaching assistants (TAs) have a new opportunity to share their experience with colleagues at the upcoming TA Conference, set for Thursday, Feb. 18, in the lower floor of the Technology Enhanced Learning Building on York’s Keele campus. 

The conference is a response to requests for a special event for intermediate and senior TAs and has been organized by the Centre for the Support of Teaching (CST) in collaboration with TA leaders, program level teaching development graduate assistants (TDGAs), CST’s graduate teaching associates John Paul Foxe and Tharsini Manivannan and TDGA coordinator Stephanie Conway.

“TAs and TDGAs have been instrumental in putting this event together. This conference belongs to the TA teaching community at York” says Foxe. “The workshops at TA Conference will develop the teacher in you,” adds Manivannan.

While the focus of the conference will be on teaching, Conway emphasizes its value for the long term. “Not all TAs will continue in teaching. It is important for TAs to realize that the skills they have developed in the classroom will be essential to their future careers, and I think this conference will really highlight that.”

The plenary address will be given by Karolyn Smardz Frost, a York lecturer who was recently named one of 10 finalists in the TVOntario 2010 Big Ideas Best Lecturer Competition (see YFile, Feb. 10). Smardz Frost teaches historical research methods, with an emphasis on Toronto and on the city’s complex and fascinating African-Canadian heritage. She studies slavery by focusing on the lives of the courageous individuals who fled it.

Smardz Frost’s journey of detailed historical detective work began 25 years ago with a remarkable find in downtown Toronto – traces of a house, shed and cellar that were owned by fugitive slaves from Kentucky who settled in Toronto in 1834 and established the city’s first taxicab business. Smardz Frost recounted their story in I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land: A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2007.

Registration for the TA Conference is open and the program is available online on the conference Web site.

TA Conference postcards outlining more details about the event will be distributed very soon through program offices.