in the


Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures, Russian Program

University of Colorado, Boulder


Approved by the Russian Program, January 27, 2020




1)  The Importance of TAs -

To the Department 

·      TAs provide vital assistance to instructors and professors in basic teaching duties and serve as a liaison between faculty and undergraduate students.

·      TAs, in their role as recitation leaders and language instructors, play an important role in the department, because they encounter students at the introductory level and are their first personal contact with their discipline. The experience that students have with the TA may determine whether or not they develop enough interest in the discipline and pursue it further in future courses.


To Undergraduate Students

Many undergraduate students take large lecture classes. TAs and language instructors have direct contact with students. The time spent interacting with undergraduate students plays a large part in determining how they view the entire academic process.


To the University

Well-trained TAs who perform their tasks effectively can contribute to improving the quality of undergraduate education at CU-Boulder. This is also a very important factor in retaining a diverse and enthusiastic body of students.


For the TA’s Professional Development 

An assistantship or instructorship provides a training ground where graduate students learn to teach and collaborate with the department and the university as a whole. Even if teaching career is not a career objective, TAs will gain valuable skills in time management, communication, supervision, assessment, and human relations which are applicable to other aspects of life and for other career paths. 


2) Types of Teaching Appointments for Graduate Students in the Russian Program:

Language instructors 

·      Work under the supervision of the language coordinator.

·      Teach a total of 2 sections per academic year. 

·      Meet once a week with the language coordinator.

·      Meet with their class four times a week.

·      Receive all teaching materials, including lesson plans, quizzes, handouts, and exams from the language coordinator (unless mutually decided otherwise with language coordinator). 

·      Are responsible for all grading.

·    Hold one office hour a week and are available to meet students who are unable to attend office hours due to schedule conflict. 


Teaching Assistants for content classes

·      Attend all lectures and read all assigned materials.

·      Teach 2-3 recitation sections weekly, with the number of recitations depending on enrollment

·      Receive all teaching materials, including lesson plans, quizzes, handouts, and exams from the instructor of record (unless mutually decided otherwise)

·      Meet weekly with the instructor of record

·      Hold one office hour a week and are available to meet students who are unable to attend office hours due to schedule conflict.


Graders for content classes

·      Attend all lectures and read all assigned materials.

·      Grade ⅔-¾ of enrolled students 

·      Meet as needed with the instructor of record

·      Generally do not hold office hours



3) Leads and Representatives

Two GSLL representatives are elected by the graduate students at the beginning of each academic year (if possible, one from the MA program and one from the PhD). Representatives are ideally experienced TAs whose role is to represent the graduate students’ interest in faculty meetings as well as liaison between TAs and faculty members. They assist in various issues that TAs might encounter. Representatives are also responsible for organizing a biannual workshop with the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance (OIEC)..

Lead TAs work directly with and are compensated by the Graduate Teacher Program:


4) Evaluation of TA performance:

·      By students: Evaluation is done each semester for all instructors at the University of Colorado via a Faculty Course Questionnaire (FCQ) administered to the students during the final weeks of the term. Results are reported to the department administrators and to the instructor.

·      By faculty: TAs and language instructors are observed and evaluated at least once a semester by a faculty member. The language coordinator and graduate student will agree on a class session during which they will be observed. 

·      TAs and language instructors meet to discuss their FCQ results with their supervising faculty for the class taught. 

·      Self-reflection: Graduate students intending to pursue careers in academia should be advised that FCQs are required for most job applications. For this reason, they are encouraged to write reflections on their teaching evaluations and FCQs.         


5) How Are Teaching Positions Assigned? 

·      Teaching assignments are determined each year by the Chair, the head of the Russian program (often the Associate Chair for Russian), the Graduate Associate Chair for Russian, and the language coordinator. The department aims to provide a range of teaching experiences (including both language and content) to graduate students, taking into consideration the department’s own varying needs and the graduate students’ skills and experience.

-     Sometimes teaching assignments need to be changed at the last moment, and if so, the department strives to accommodate needs of TAs as well as of students, department, and university.


6) Grading

  • In content courses the supervising faculty member does the equivalent of one section of grading.  

  • Instructors should consider making shared grading anonymous to minimize bias. 

  • Every class in GSLL has a grade appeal process determined by the faculty member. It should be communicated to the appealing student that all grade-appeal decisions are made collectively by the instructor of record and all TAs which teach the course. 

  • Per University policy, grades cannot be discussed over email. 

  • Grades must be submitted in a timely fashion. Weekly assignments should be graded each week, and exams should be graded within a week of the exam date. TAs in content courses must show grades to supervising faculty member before releasing them to students. TAs in language courses should have supervising faculty member check grading, especially during first semester of teaching. 

  • Students wishing to have additional grading opportunities during the summer will submit a very brief email request to the program coordinator and Chair by the beginning of spring semester. Students’ prior teaching experience will be taken into consideration for this assignment. Compensation will be done in the form of a fixed hourly rate of $35 for a number of hours established by mutual agreement. The hourly rate includes the time needed for the grader to become acquainted with the class materials.


7) Absences and Subbing Policy

·      In case of medical or family emergency, or for a professional occasion (such as a conference or interview) that would require cancelling a class or finding a substitute, TAs should notify their supervising faculty with as much notice as possible. A class should not be canceled without prior notice or approval. 

·      No graduate student is expected to sub for more than two hours per semester. 

·      Compensation will be offered to students who wish to sub for more than two hours per semester. Because the department needs approval to offer additional pay to students, this compensation must be approved in advance by the departmental chair. International students with most types of visas are not eligible for extra compensation. 

·      Students should keep a record of the number of hours they have subbed during the semester. This number will have to be confirmed by the supervising faculty or program head. 


8) Workshops and Training  

·      Entering Teaching Assistants must complete workshops on Discrimination and Harassment, and on the CU Honor Code Policy. 

·      First-time language instructors are required to participate in language teaching workshops provided by the department during orientation week. First-time TAs in content courses are required to participate in teaching workshops provided by the department during orientation week.

·      All TAs are encouraged to participate in workshops on learning and/or teaching styles provided by the Center for Teaching and Learning . The CTL offers a fall-intensive during orientation week as well as workshops throughout the semester. (See CTLworkshop schedule:

·      Graduate students are not obligated to attend the same workshop more than once.


9) Disruptive Behavior

Supervising faculty members will support TAs dealing with disruptive students, by advising them and by connecting them to campus resources. TAs should notify the supervising faculty member immediately of any disruption or potential disruption in the classroom.


10) Resources


Helping Students with Problems Outside of the Class 

On occasion, students may come to TAs with problems outside the scope of the class. Such problems may include anything from trouble with some other class, or picking a major, to conflicts with family members, financial difficulties, psychological conditions such as depression or eating disorders, and even sexual violence. The University of Colorado has a number of offices set up to address these problems, and TAs may wish to help their students contact these offices. 


TAs and GPTIs have a reporting obligation. All employees who have the authority to hire, promote, discipline, evaluate, grade, formally advise, or direct faculty, staff, or students are considered "responsible employees" and are required to report alleged misconduct to OIEC. This includes, but is not limited to resident advisors, teaching assistants, professors, academic advisors, coaches, or other university employees with supervisory authority. For more information, see the OIEC web page on “Who is Required to Report.”


Student Resources and Related Links on the Grad School website

University of Colorado Police Department 303-492-6666 (non-emergencies). For emergencies dial 911

CU Red Folder

Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance (including mandatory reporting guidelines)

Office of Student Conduct 

Ombuds Office Center for Community N440 303-492-5077