Music Department TA Training
This wiki page is intended to serve as a syllabus for the TA training course of the music department (Music 280) and as a resource for teaching assistants containing helpful information and links.
- 1 Program of the Workshop
- 2 Teaching in Braun and CCRMA
- 3 Stanford TA resources and requirements
- 4 Round Table: Instructor Expectations and Tips
- 5 Student-Centered Teaching Resources
- 6 Ideas & Techniques for Inclusive Teaching
- 7 Dealing with Difficult Situations
- 8 Teaching Workshop Guidelines
- 9 Teaching Workshop Videos
- 10 Teaching Workshop Reflection
- 11 Additional Recommended Resources
Program of the Workshop
May 1, 2020 (Zoom)
- 09:15am - 10:20am: Introductions / Overview of TA work and policies / Reflection on teaching goals
- 10:30am - 12:00pm: Braun teaching demos
- 12:00pm - 1:00pm: Lunch break offline
- 1:00pm - 1:45pm: Round-table discussion/Panel: Instructor expectations and tips
- 2:00pm - 3:00pm: CCRMA teaching demos
- 3:10pm - 04:00pm: Closing reflection on effective pedagogy and inclusion in the classroom
Teaching in Braun and CCRMA
- The Department of Music Graduate Handbook contains useful information for TAs regarding payroll, requirements, etc.
- Scope of courses and teaching requirements
- Undergraduate course requirements for music majors: https://music.stanford.edu/academics/undergraduates/current/studies-programs-in-music
- "Writing in the Major" courses: https://undergrad.stanford.edu/tutoring-support/hume-center/writing/writing-major
- Keys for the graduate student lounge and copy room (230)
- Piano locations, printers/copy machines/scanners, audiovisual cables and remotes
- Scheduling rooms and office hours
- Important departmental contacts and resources
- TAing Tips for CCRMA Courses
- Cables/Gears, Audio/Video Equipment, Adaptor Closet
- Scheduling rooms and office hours
Stanford TA resources and requirements
- Video on Major Stanford policies and practices every TA should know
- Using Axess and Canvas
- Recommended Stanford TA Orientation (Fall 2020 date TBA)
- Sexual Harassment Training: Register in STARS SHP-2000 
- Mandated Reporter Training: sign acknowledgement form in Axess: 
If, while you're TAing, you encounter a situation and you're not sure what to do, there are resources at Harass.Stanford.Edu
Improving as a TA
Consider getting help from the Vice Provost for Teaching & Learning (VPTL). They have teaching reflection and feedback programs VPTL Assess Your Teaching This is extremely valuable, especially if you are considering a career in education and/or academia, regardless of if you are new to teaching at Stanford or have been teaching for a while.
Find more teaching development opportunities: Graduate Teaching Commons - Grad Teaching Workshops and Resources
International Teaching Assistants
- English Screening of International Teaching Assistants
- Maintaining a Legal Status: ITIN vs. SSN
- Visit the Bechtel International Center for more information on issues for International students
Round Table: Instructor Expectations and Tips
- Giancarlo Aquilanti (current instructor)
- Elena Georgieva (current instructor, former TA)
- Mike Kinney (current student, former TA)
- Elea Mclaughlin (current TA)
Student-Centered Teaching Resources
Student Learning Resources
Resources for Inclusive Classrooms
- First Day Practices for TAs (from VPTL)
- First Day Practices for Instructors (from VPTL)
- Additional Resources from VPTL
Students with Disabilities
TAs may be asked to assist in providing accommodations for students with disabilities. Therefore, we recommend that TAs become familiar with both student and faculty rights and responsibilities surrounding accessible education and accommodations. Visit the OAE (Office of Accessible Education] website for this information. The website provides help understanding what OAE can provide, the role of teaching staff in providing accessibility, understanding exam accommodations, and more.
Note that generally instructional staff will only be provided information on the accommodation required, not the disability.
If a student approaches you about a personal accommodation when you have not been provided with OAE documentation (and the requested accommodation is not one you can provide for all students), contact the course professor or direct them to OAE, as appropriate. If you think a student may benefit from official OAE accommodations but does not have them, you may tactfully recommend contacting OAE, if you feel it is appropriate.
Advice for working with first-gen/low-income students
Implicit Bias Test
Ideas & Techniques for Inclusive Teaching
Opportunities for conversation & engagement
- Learn about your students
- Distribute discussion q’s in advance
- Ask everyone to share
- Warm vs. cold calling
- Appealing to prior/personal knowledge
- Plan for “hot moments” (respond promptly to discriminatory remarks)
Ways of learning/retaining knowledge
- Lecture often least effective way of retaining knowledge
- Compare & contrast is one of the most effective ways of retaining knowledge
- Multiple ways of explaining concepts
- Visual, auditory, textual, metaphorical
Grading/feedback for learning
- Read drafts, check homework, do practice problems
- Provide rubrics and grading explanations
- Explain purpose of office hours, and may "require" them if appropriate
For more, see the VPTL page on inclusive classrooms.
Creating accessible classrooms for all learners
- Add subtitles to all videos
- Face students when speaking
- Use white on black text instead of the reverse
- Provide printed versions of slides, images and diagrams, and/or activity instructions
- Print text in 12 point font or larger
- Think carefully about when to precede a course, class period, or activity/set of materials with a trigger warning (More on this from VPTL)
Note: the tips directly above are derived from practices developed for students with disabilities, as many of those practices may help all students. They should not be considered a replacement for seeking out and following guidelines from the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) when students with documented disabilities are in your classroom. Likewise, if a student reaches out regarding personal accommodations, contact the course instructor and the OAE for guidelines.
Dealing with Difficult Situations
Resources for mental health issues and other types of distress
If you notice a change in a students' mood or behavior, it may be appropriate to reach out to them. In certain cases, it may be appropriate to remind the student that you cannot act as a confidential resource. If needed, encourage them to get help. The Sexual Harassment Policy Office has a helpful resource for Stanford students and instructors to navigate which resource might be best, including which resources can be confidential and/or anonymous.
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is often a good place to start, and can help you figure out what to do to best assist a student in need. Note that CAPS is a confidential but not anonymous resource; be mindful of this when contacting them about a student who wishes to remain anonymous (or if you don't know whether they wish to remain anonymous). Their website also provides advice for assisting students in distress.
What do I do if a student indicates something serious is going on, like severe emotional or psychological distress, or even suicide?
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) counsel with Stanford community members who are concerned about a student, and their website provides advice for assisting students in distress.
- If you feel the situation presents imminent danger or harm to anyone, call 911 immediately.
- If the situation is urgent, or if you’d like help assessing the situation, contact a CAPS on-call clinician at 650-723-3785 anytime. Regular office hours are M–F 8:30am–5pm. If you’re calling at any other time, you’ll be forwarded to the answering machine service: don’t be alarmed! The service will page the on call clinician, who will return your call within twenty minutes. Leave a message identifying yourself as a Stanford faculty or staff member, indicating the urgency of your request and a phone number where you can be reached.
- If your situation is non-urgent but you’d like help handling it, contact the counseling staff at CAPS (650-723-3785). Each academic department is assigned a consultant who supports faculty and staff in dealing with student concerns. You can also visit this page: Supporting Vulnerable Students.
- Two more resources if you are concerned about a student:
- If the student is an undergraduate, they have a Residence Dean who provides students with professional advising and assistance with personal emergencies. (https://resed.stanford.edu/get-know-us/find-your-residence-dean-rd)
- Rowen Leigh (650-725-1932) is the Undergraduate Student Services administrator in Braun.
What do I do if I suspect a student may pose a risk to themselves or to others?
CAPS has an emergency number if you suspect a mental health crisis: . You may also report the behavior to the Stanford Department of Public Safety (650-723-9633, or https://police.stanford.edu/#contactsection). If it is an emergency, call 911 immediately.
What do I do if I suspect there has been an Honor Code Violation?
- First, do your best to assess whether a violation has occurred by reviewing these documents:
- Speak with the course’s principal instructor as soon as possible.
- If the principal instructor cannot be reached, contact the Office of Community Standards (650-725-2485 or firstname.lastname@example.org) to get help assessing the situation.
- Review procedures for reporting Honor Code Concerns at the Office of Community Standards. A few notes:
- It is recommended that concerns be reported within sixty days of the incident.
- Once you submit a concern, you have initiated a judicial process, so please use the utmost discretion.
- Be sure to maintain students' confidentiality throughout the process. If you discuss an Honor Code matter with anyone other than your principal instructor, avoid naming the student.
- Review your rights, described in the Student Judicial Charter.
What about any other complicated or difficult situations with students or other instructors?
These situations may require a variety of responses. Use your discretion in contacting your course instructor, or contacting CAPS or another counseling/reporting resource, via the links above.
Teaching Workshop Guidelines
Teaching Workshop Guidelines
During the teaching workshop, participants will teach a lesson (no longer than 15 minutes, as short as 10 minutes is fine!) that simulates a music class. We’ll solicit feedback from the audience and discuss what worked well and what could be improved using the Feedback guidelines below. The goal of this feedback is not so much to evaluate your performance but to explore how the attendees experienced your class from the student perspective.
Choosing a Topic
You may choose any music-related topic, but it must be accessible to all trainees (upper-level music undergraduates or graduate students). However, we highly recommend choosing a topic from the course you will be a TA for next year! If you are having trouble choosing a topic, please email us!
During your session (since we are online), we may ask you to complete the following tasks: Teaching Tasks on Zoom:
- Preserve original sound
- Screen share
- Play an audio/video example
Information on how to do this is here: https://stanford.box.com/s/vahar9jiyddiyfjfl7ee6mlzmr22myuv
During your session (if we were in person), we may ask you to complete the following tasks:
- Set up lighting, chairs, and tables
- Distribute a paper handout
- Write on the blackboard
- Play an audio example over the loudspeakers
- Show a visual on the projector from a laptop
Depending on your TA assignments, not all of these tasks will come up when you actually teach; we just want to make sure you feel comfortable doing them if necessary.
Teaching Context (with sample answers)
Please answer the following questions before the training in order to better prepare the teaching workshops:
- Name of teacher: "Irán Roman"
- What is the number and title for the course you’re simulating? "Music 42 (Music History after 1830)"
- Describe the typical education level and musical background of the students in this course: "Mostly sophomores and juniors; mostly music majors who have already taken the ear training and theory sequences."
- How long is a typical class meeting in this course? "Fifty minutes per class period"
- What is the topic for the class meeting that you’re simulating? "Programmatic music and the development of the orchestra"
- When does this class meeting usually occur during the quarter? "Week 2"
- What is the subtopic for the particular twenty minutes you’ve chosen? "Hector Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique"
- When would these twenty minutes occur within the class meeting as a whole? "The first 15 minutes of class"
During the teaching simulation, we may ask participants to consider the following from the perspective of the above student types:
- How was the pacing?
- Was it an appropriate amount of material, given the subtopic for the twenty minutes as well as the topic for the entire class meeting?
- Which parts were particularly helpful?
- Which parts were particularly interesting?
- Which parts were confusing?
- Which parts were boring?
- Did the teacher seem accessible?
- Did the teacher seem engaging/charismatic/inspiring?
- Did the teacher seem offensive or off-putting?
Teaching Workshop Videos
[Go to Stanford Box for teaching video downloads when available.]
Teaching Workshop Reflection
After the workshop, watch the video of your presentation (posted at the link above). Based on that viewing and the feedback you received from the other participants at the training, write a 300-400 word reflection. You might consider the following to guide your response:
- How did you feel as a “student” watching your own presentation? What stood out to you about your own presentation style? Were you surprised by anything?
- What patterns do you see in the participant feedback? Do these align with your personal reactions to watching the video? What might account for gaps between the participant and personal reactions, if any?
- How do you see best pedagogical practices emerging in your teaching (i.e. what are you already doing that is productive and useful)? Which of these would you like to focus on moving forward, and/or which teaching methods would you like to experiment with adding to your practice?
- Describe 2-3 goals you have for your TA experience in the fall/next academic year. What are some steps you plan to take to achieve those goals?
Due Date: Fri, May 29.
Additional Recommended Resources
John Dewey, Experience and Education, originally published 1938. Full text available online & via SUL.
Claude Steele, Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do, 2010. Available via SUL.
bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom, 1994. Full text available online & via SUL.