The Role of the TA and How They Operate in Our Classrooms
In the TA program, you are training to be a teacher for WIT. You will be paired with a Supervising Teacher to observe and get some hands-on teaching experience and guidance in the classroom.
The role of the TA entails: training with a Supervising Teacher for ideally three sessions of classes; attending at least six of the eight classes per session; observing the Supervising Teacher for classroom management techniques, exercise explanations and feedback, etc.
For those entering our TA program, we are seeking a long-term commitment. This program is designed to train people to be teachers. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, by being a part of the TA program, you are committing to at least two years of teaching for WIT upon finishing the TA program.
Teaching Assistants FAQ
Who are Teaching Assistants?
They are graduates of the WIT Curriculum or experienced facilitators/teachers in their own right who we are interested in investing in to become a part of the WIT faculty.
They have some combination of the following traits/qualities:
- Demonstrated a strong understanding of improv principles of improv and how to apply them in scene (most likely through performance)
- Expressed interest in teaching long-term at WIT. This means they’re not moving in a few months or plan to move in a year. They are interested in starting this process, so they can eventually teach for the foreseeable future.
- The ability to communicate ideas clearly and effectively
- Approachable, adaptable, and open and receptive to notes and coaching
- A good team player
- Committed to growing their understanding of cultural sensitivity
- Posses social skills and awareness with the ability to recognize class dynamics and project openness to students
How are TAs Recruited?
There is an application process to be selected for the TA program. This application does not guarantee acceptance into the program. To fill out the application, please click here.
Once the application is submitted, we reach out to faculty for feedback on applicants. The Education Manager also recruits directly from players in the community, especially those performing as part of WIT Harold Teams or Ensembles. Level 5 teachers are consulted for student recommendations for the TA program. TA applicants might also be asked for an interview with the Education Manager.
The Education Manager makes hiring decisions based on the criteria listed in consultation with current faculty and WIT staff. Women and people of color are given preference to join the TA program. WIT is committed to increasing the diversity of experiences among the faculty in order to create a more inclusive environment for a wider range of students.
What is the TA process?
In a typical TA process, TAs will train with a Supervising Teacher for three sessions before teaching solo. Following the completion of the TA program, new teachers are expected to teach the same level class back to back for two consecutive sessions in order to solidify the material (i.e. teaching during the summer session and the following fall session).
All TAs are required to TA at least one Level 1 class, regardless of desired level of teaching. The majority of teaching assistants will start teaching on their own at a Level 1 or Level 2. It is rare that a TA will start in a Level 3 or above. Material in Level 1 and Level 2 are foundational for the rest of the curriculum. A teacher must have a strong grasp on that material in order to assess student skill development.
A TA might have a desired level of focus during the program. In this scenario, that TA should be an assistant for that level at least two times out of the three required sessions. Or, a TA might assist in a level above or below the desired level in order to gain a better understanding of how to prepare students.
Ideally, TAs will work with different teachers in order to gain a better understanding of a variety of teaching styles. TAs are encouraged to work with more senior teachers during their training.
In practice, the above process happens differently. TAs may be asked to co-teach after two sessions with the same teacher, if the faculty member and Education Manager assess that they are ready. TAs are expected to assist in the classroom at least once for a specific level before teaching it.
It is the responsibility of the TA to track the levels they are assisting if their goal is to get into the classroom as soon as possible. For example, if a TA wants to teach Level 2 in three sessions, at least two of those sessions should probably be a Level 2 class.
Individual work plans can be made by request for each TA to prepare them for teaching specific levels. Some individuals who already have an education background may want to get into the classroom sooner. Others will want to TA for more levels to find the right fit.
It is important to TA for different teachers to get a feel for different teaching styles and different curricula in our program. Teachers are expected to gain experience in multiple levels of the WIT curriculum because it makes them stronger teachers in the levels they enjoy the most. Knowing what to expect of students coming into your favorite level, and knowing how to prepare them for the next one, helps focus you on critical material in the classroom.
All TAs are paid a $150.00 stipend for their work. TAs are paid directly from WIT.
If you’re interested in being considered for the Teaching Assistant Program at Washington Improv Theater, please fill out our survey. This is an application. Position assignments are not guaranteed.
You should hear back regarding your application within two weeks from the date of submission.
Women and people of color are given preference to join the TA program. WIT is committed to increasing the diversity of experiences among the faculty in order to create a more inclusive environment for a wider range of students.
If you have questions, please reach out to WIT’s Education Manager Kacie Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What does a TA do in the classroom?
- Handling logistics – Taking attendance; Gathering supplies before class (paper? notecards? speakers to play music?)
- Taking notes – What do they see going on in class? How is content being taught? What are the student reactions to certain exercises?How are students making discoveries? Including these observations in a class debrief email (content) with instructor approval or sharing them with the teacher (structure)
- Leading – Leading exercises in the classroom will be made by the teacher and the TA in concert. This could look like the TA leading at least one exercise per class (ranging from warm-ups to a section of the lesson plan). This could also look like the TA observing the class throughout the session. This plan will be up to the pair of TA and Supervising Teacher.
- Modeling exercises – Modeling positive behavior in class (being on time, responding swiftly to email communication, displaying discretion, avoiding gossip).
Teachers are given access to the list of TAs approved for each level. TAs are given access to the schedule of teachers. Both can email each other in order to get scheduled. Teachers are not obligated to say yes to a TA’s request to work together for a session.
The approval process is conducted by the Education Manager. Recent graduates of the WIT core curriculum training program will be approved to TA in Levels 1 and 2. TA applicants who have performance experience will be considered on a case by case basis for approval in Levels 3, 4 and 5.
Additionally, the Education Manager will work with accepted TA applicants on a path forward through the TA program and determine which levels to focus on during the three training sessions. It is up to the TA to keep track of their progress in the program.
Teachers will reach out to the Education Manager if they want to make an exception and have someone TA an unapproved level. Generally speaking, it’s fine if you want to TA for a level you aren’t approved for, but it may increase the total number of times you have to TA before teaching.
If there are any scheduling issues as a TA and you no longer are able to do it, you *must* make sure the teacher knows ASAP. TAs may miss up to two class sessions and still be eligible for advancement. Any days the TA misses will be noted. If more than two sessions are missed, it is the teacher’s decision whether the TA should be allowed to continue in the current session.