Each year, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) celebrates the contributions to teaching excellence at Georgia Tech made by our graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants. After a particularly challenging year, we are excited to recognize the resilience and excellent work of our TAs by expanding our awards to include two new categories that highlight the efforts made by TAs of fully online/remote courses. As such, we are pleased to announce that for the 2021 TA awards we have added the new categories of Online Teaching Assistant of the Year and Online Head Teaching Assistant of the Year. These two categories that focus on the unique and demanding work of teaching in a fully remote/online environment will join the three existing TA awards of Graduate Student Instructor of the Year, Graduate Teaching Assistant of the Year, and Undergraduate Teaching Assistant of the Year as a means to show appreciation and recognition of the amazing work our TAs do to ensure teaching and learning excellence in their courses at Georgia Tech.
These two new Teaching Assistant awards came about in part due to 1) a desire to specifically call attention to and recognize the extraordinary efforts made by Georgia Tech TAs this past year in being flexible and adjusting to the shift to remote/online course instruction and 2) an aspiration to make the existing award program more accessible to the ever-growing population of Teaching Assistants in the expanding Online Master of Science programs and other Georgia Tech online offerings. It is also worth noting that while considerations of extending our award offerings were already in rumination; it was feedback from the Teaching Assistants themselves that helped serve as the catalyst to begin the process of creating and adding these new award categories during this trying time.
While creating new award categories to fit an existing award program can be an arduous process; the Center for Teaching and Learning was very fortunate that their own Graduate Teaching Assistant Terri Dunbar was already deep into research on TA award systems and had recently concluded the first round of research, evaluation, and changes to the existing TA Awards process utilized by CTL in the Spring of 2020. Together with TA Development and Future Faculty Specialist Dr. Tammy McCoy and Teaching and Learning Online Program Manager Dr. Vincent Spezzo, the three formed the CTL TA Awards team and began the vital task of creating the two new award categories in time for the 2021 awards season.
Through their combined collaborative efforts and after multiple revisions, virtual meetings, and hours of research over the Summer and into the Fall semester, the team created the new criteria, application forms, reviewer rubrics, and more for the new categories. During this process, they adhered to and attempted to match the relevant measures from the existing categories while also introducing new elements and modifications to ensure relevancy to TAs and Head TAs in fully online/remote courses despite variation in their roles and course functions. Considerable efforts were made to ensure flexibility, clarity, consistency, and inclusion in all aspects of the new award categories.
Due to the efforts of the TA Awards team, these new categories are ready and included in the 2021 TA Awards season, just in time to recognize the efforts of TAs during these unprecedented times. As with the other TA Awards, CTL welcomes all TA coordinators and award committees from each of the schools/departments at Georgia Tech to select one teaching assistant in each of these categories, where applicable. Each school-level winner will be invited to submit an application to participate in the institute-wide TA of the Year competition for each category. All recipients of school/department awards will be honored, and the campus-wide winners will be announced at the annual TA and Future Faculty Awards Day in Spring 2021.
If you would like to learn more about the TA Awards competition, qualifications, and see past winners, please visit our website.