Every year, the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation offers awards to the best Teaching Assistants on campus. This year, there were 361 nominations from students and 46 nominations from faculty; in total, over 180 TAs were nominated from 78 departments, a particularly competitive year. Only twelve TAs made it to the short-list. Of these twelve short-listed among hundreds of TAs on campus, TWO were PhD students from the Centre for Medieval Studies: Nicholas Wheeler and Amanda Wetmore, and Amanda was among the five winners. She won the 2016 Teaching Assistants’ Training Program (TATP) Teaching Excellence Award. CONGRATULATIONS!
Here are some extracts of the letters written for these two TAs.
One professor wrote about Amanda: “Amanda is a wonderful communicator who plans her lessons so thoroughly that she is able to let class discussion follow the movement of the needs and interests of students. She patiently gets the students in ENG 150Y to focus on the nuts and bolts of how literary texts work – the rhetorical devices, narrative structures, and thematic associations that go into the texture of literary compositions. The result is that students come out of her tutorials knowing they have real transferable skills as well as a much enriched understanding of cultural history.”
One student wrote about Nicholas: “Nicholas’ passion for learning is contagious and so he makes everything interesting. He also has the gift of tying medieval concepts to the development of our modern views.” A professor wrote: “[Nicholas’ contagious pleasure in teaching] is manifested by the incredible energy and joy he emanates when he is in front of his audience, tempered only by his desire to transmit his message in the clearest way possible. [H]e has a very clear sense of what must ABSOLUTELY be transmitted to them [the students] if we hope they understand anything of our message, a gift of clarity not given to all.”
The Teaching Assistants’ Training Program’s (TATP) Teaching Excellence Award was created in 2003 to recognize the outstanding contributions of teaching assistants across all four divisions in the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto. The award seeks to value the work of TAs who regularly inspire and challenge undergraduate students. It means that the individuals who won this award (and the ones who were short-listed for it) can count themselves among the University’s top TAs!
CMS does not have an undergraduate component to its program. Therefore our PhD students are sometimes frustrated as they cannot TA as much as they would like. The fact that two out of the twelve TAs short-listed by TATP this year, and already one from the twelve TAs short-listed last year (Michael Fatigati) were from CMS is the perfect proof that any institution hiring CMS students gets the service of extremely talented and incredibly knowledgeable TAs.