Center for Teaching and Learning

Teaching resources for international TAs

Image - Puzzle for aligningOn this page you will find strategies and resources to help support you in your teaching at UW.

Aligning your classes: a framework for teaching

One framework to consider for your teaching is the Alignment Model, which focuses on communication strategies that help instructors reinforce the connections between their course content, students, and themselves (Wulff 2005). Below are the four aspects of the alignment model and teaching strategies that support them:

1. Build rapport with your students

  • Get to know your students.
  • Learn their names.
  • Ask about their interests in the class.
  • Learn about their prior experiences with the course content.
  • You can ask them to write this information on a 3×5 card, fill out a survey, or interview and introduce another student in class.
  • Ask informal questions before class begins (e.g., “How are you today?” “Did you watch the Huskies game?”). You can talk to students individually, or all of the students who are already in class.
  • Establish ground rules for respect and discussion.

2. Organize your course intentionally and clarify the structure for students

  • Write an agenda for the class period on the board at the beginning of class.
  • Begin class with a warm-up problem or review from the previous class.
  • Wrap up discussions to emphasize key points; ask, “what did we learn? Where does this lead us next?”
  • Use the board/overhead to track key points in a discussion.
  • Preview the content for upcoming class meetings.

3. Engage your students through relevant in-class activities with clear expectations

  • Prepare for discussions: clarify your goals, anticipate students’ questions, and ask students to respond to some questions before the discussion (outside of class or in groups)

 4. Encourage students to interact with one another and with you

  • Check in with students—ask if they did not understand something you said, and provide opportunities for them to ask questions throughout the class period.
  • Offer students feedback on group work, discussions, and participation.
  • Gather feedback from students about your course—what is helping them learn, and what suggestions they have to improve their learning.



Wulff, D. ed. (2005). Aligning for Learning: Strategies for Teaching Effectiveness. Bolton, MA: Anker.

Teaching resources

Additional resources at UW

  • English 105, a course for international TAs.
  • The Center for Teaching and Learning offers a number of workshops, individual consultations, etc.
  • UW-IT  offers help with learning technologies, such as Canvas, clickers, Panopto, and many others.
  • Remember: your department is often your best resource. Don’t hesitate to ask other TAs, your supervisor, graduate program advisor, or a professor if you have a question or concern about your teaching.
  • Books available at the UW Libraries:
    • Hendrix, K.G. and Hebbani, A., eds. (2014). Hidden Roads: Nonnative English-Speaking International Professors in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. (includes contributions from international TAs)
    • Sarkisian, E. (2006). Teaching American Students: A Guide for International Faculty and Teaching Assistants in Colleges and Universities. Cambridge, MA: Harvard.

On the web