Teaching Mentors

L&S Teaching Mentors Program

The L&S TA Training & Support Team is responsible for welcoming and training hundreds of new TAs each year. Teaching Mentors are the heart of this crucial undertaking: they serve as facilitators at the annual L&S Fall TA Training event and provide mentorship throughout the semester. Those selected to be Teaching Mentors have not only a proven track record of excellence as educators, but also a strong desire to share their experience and mentor new TAs navigating their first year. 

The deadline to make 2023-2024 L&S Teaching Mentor nominations is Monday, Feb 13, 2023 at 5 pm.

Submit a Nomination

There are 15 Mentors per year, and each receives $1000 as a Project Assistant appointment. Nominees do not need to be currently teaching, but ideal candidates are innovative teachers constantly seeking to improve, convey enthusiasm for education, and are dedicated to supporting new and inexperienced TAs. Nominees should be:

  • Passionate Teachers: they should have a love of learning and helping students learn. They should demonstrate sustained commitment to implementing evidence-based, learner-centered, and innovative teaching methods. 
  • Eager to Mentor: excited about connecting and building relationships with new TAs across different disciplines within L&S. 
  • Excellent Facilitators: they should know how to effectively guide learning through thoughtful questioning, rapport building, and active listening. 
  • Effective Communicators: they should be attentive, timely, empathetic, and thoughtful in their communications with others.
  • Invited to in-person welcome event during the last five weeks of the Spring Semester (1 hour)
  • 2 virtual meetings during the summer, 75 minutes each (2.5 hours)
  • Complete independent Teaching Mentor exploration project (5 hours)
  • In-person bootcamp the week of training (6 hours)
    • Tentative schedule: Monday 8/28, Tuesday 8/29, and Wednesday 8/30 from 9-11 am.
    • Teaching Mentors will be surveyed during the summer to identify potential conflicts with required department commitments.
  • Full-day L&S TA Training on Thursday, Aug. 31, 8am-6pm (9 hours)
  • Mentorship support during the Fall semester (3 hours)
  • Teaching Mentor work must fall within the student’s allowable employment maximums. We will coordinate with L&S Human Resources to confirm that the student is eligible to work these hours.
  • International TAs are eligible and encouraged to apply. Due to visa limitations, International TAs with a 50% fall semester appointment will complete all of their work during the summer.
  • Departments may only nominate three candidates for the L&S Teaching Mentor program each year. 
  • Winners of departmental awards that recognize teaching and those previously nominated or awarded a Campus-Wide TA Award are eligible.

Nomination Process

  • Submit nominations here: https://forms.gle/fyyBgBZoq9dUZHWUA
  • Nominations must be based on TA and/or L(SA) work within the College of Letters & Science.
  • TAs are nominated by the department through the submission of the nomination packet, which is comprised of (1) a completed Nomination Form with a (2) PDF of supplemental materials (see below).
  • We are asking nominators to anonymize the submissions.
    • Anonymization is an important best practice for maintaining equity.
    • To anonymize, replace the TA’s name with either their initials or simply “TA.” Also replace he/him or she/her with they/them. We know this may create grammatical issues on occasion – we understand and will overlook these.
    • Please note: anonymization does NOT imply that nominations must avoid all mention of a candidate’s personal identities. A person’s race, gender, sexuality, and other identities can affect their teaching in myriad ways. We are happy to accept, anywhere in the nomination materials, any relevant discussion of a nominee’s identities as they relate to teaching success.

If anonymization is a barrier to submitting your nomination – please reach out. We can help if necessary.

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Nomination Form Content

The nomination form includes the following questions:

  • Are you able to certify the nominee is currently making satisfactory progress (according to their home department guidelines)?
  • Are you able to certify that the nominee has the endorsement of the Department Chair or their designee?
  • Nominee information:
    • What is the nominee’s first name?
    • What is the nominee’s last name?
    • What is the nominee’s Wisc email address?
    • What is the nominee’s home department?
    • What is the nominee’s teaching department?
  • Nominator information:
    • What is your first name?
    • What is your last name?
    • What is your title/position on campus?
    • What is your Wisc email address?
  • Upload PDF of supplemental materials (Letter of Recommendation and Nominee Reflections)

PDF of Supplemental Materials

These materials must be submitted as one PDF compiled in the following order: 1) Letter of Recommendation 2) Two Nominee Guided Reflections. See below for prompts and details:

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1. Letter of Recommendation

Submit one faculty/staff member(s) letter of recommendation (3pg. max):

  • Only one letter is allowed but it may be co-written or signed by multiple writers. 
  • The Letter of Recommendation should speak to the nominee’s excellence in the classroom, experience training or helping other teachers, commitment to improving their own and other’s teaching, and their passion, dedication, or unique approach to teaching. Letters of Recommendation that include specific examples of these qualities will be looked on more favorably. We know that only excellent TAs are being nominated – why did you choose to nominate this TA over other excellent TAs in your program?
  • The following letter content is generally unhelpful: 
    1. Vague statements about TA excellence
    2. Quantitative data from student evals
    3. Celebrations of “going above and beyond” to the point of overwork or self-sacrifice
    4. Descriptions of research accomplishments or academic excellence unconnected to the nominee’s fit for the Teaching Mentor Program.

2. Nominee Guided Reflections

The nominee should answer the two reflection prompts below (1 pg max each):

A. Describe one challenging concept in your field that students commonly struggle to understand. How have you approached supporting students as they work on learning this material? Has your approach changed over time?

B. Below are four values that we structure our program around. If you were made to rank them from 1 (most important) to 4 (least important), how would you rank them, and why? Specific examples drawn from your own or others’ experiences would be particularly useful in helping us learn about you.

The four values are:

      • Passion for teaching
      • Desire to make meaningful connections
      • Strong facilitation skills 
      • Effective communication

The deadline to make 2023-2024 L&S Teaching Mentor nominations is Monday, Feb 13, 2023 at 5 pm.

Submit a Nomination

Questions

Please contact Lynne Prost at lprost@wisc.edu with any further questions about the nomination process.