Teaching Strategies

TA/TF FAQs

This resource is intended to help new BC teaching assistants and teaching fellows orient themselves to the resources available to them on campus, policies, protocols, and logistics that will be especially relevant to their teaching, as well as information about the campus culture and community. 

This resource provides information in the below areas. Please reach out to your department if you have specific questions about teaching in your discipline. 

New Graduate Student Basics

What information do I need to submit to human resources?

If you have not previously worked on campus or if any of your information has changed, you will need to submit all relevant materials to Human Resources. Information about forms, benefits, and resources can be found on the New Employees: Human Resources website. The Human Resources main page can also be helpful in finding information such as new job opportunities, instructions for the online payroll system (Kronos), and the Boston College Child Center.

Where can I find information about relocating to Boston?

The Office of Graduate Student Life has compiled a number of resources relevant to relocating to the Boston area. The Office of Residential Life provides a number of resources on Off-Campus Housing, including a roommate finder and information about leasing in the Boston area. You can also find information about student discounts on popular Boston-area activities.

Where can I find information about financial aid?

Graduate students can access financial aid forms online.

How can I find a job on campus?

The Office of Graduate Student Life regularly updates a list of available graduate assistantships as well as opportunities in the surrounding area. Note that graduate students are typically restricted to working on campus no more than 20 hours per week during the academic year, so those with TA and TF positions may be ineligible for additional GA work. It’s often helpful to speak with peers or your Graduate Program Director to learn more about how GA-ships might complement or conflict with your teaching role in your department. 

Where can I find support on campus as a graduate student?

The Office of Graduate Student Life is the access point for most graduate programming and community. The Graduate Student Association is a student-run organization that advocates for graduate students in the larger campus governance and plans social and academic events for students. Students can also join graduate student organizations, including Graduate Students of Color Association, the Graduate International Student Association, the Graduate Pride Alliance, and/or the Graduate Christian Fellowship. Counseling Services is also available to graduate students.

Learning and Teaching 

Where can I find support for my teaching?

The Center for Teaching Excellence is committed to supporting all Boston College instructors as they investigate and implement best teaching practices. 

  • The Graduate Student Teaching Conference provides new and continuing TAs and TFs with an opportunity to reflect on their teaching and connect with colleagues as they prepare for the coming year.  
  • Graduate students can enroll in the Apprenticeship in College Teaching Program, a certificate program that prepares graduate students for future careers in college teaching through a series of workshops, classroom observations, and a teaching portfolio. 

Graduate students can also join faculty in a number of CTE programs, including: 

  • Workshops on varied topics regarding educational technology and pedagogical practices provide space for participants to consider new possibilities in their own teaching. 
  • Teaching Roundtables allow for instructors to speak more informally with colleagues about pressing and persistent teaching questions.
  • Course Prep Retreat provides light structure and community around the process of (re)designing a course. 
  • Excellence in Teaching Day, the CTE’s day-long conference, brings the campus together for conversations about teaching. 

The CTE also offers one-on-one confidential consultations on a range of teaching and technology questions. You can explore resources on your own time at CTE Resources, where you’ll find guides to teaching technologies, course design, and common teaching approaches

How can I receive technological support for my teaching?

The Center for Teaching Excellence can provide support for teaching technologies such as:

  • Canvas: BC’s learning management system 
  • Panopto: Lecture and personal capture 
  • Poll Everywhere: In- and out-of-class polling software
  • Zoom: Video conferencing tool
  • Perusall: Collaborative annotation tool 


The CTE works with campus partners to provide robust support to instructors. 

What is Canvas and how do I use it?

Canvas is Boston College’s learning management system (LMS). Most basically, instructors can post course syllabi, important documents, and announcements on Canvas. Additionally, Canvas has a chat function, discussion board, gradebook, and much more.

What is Boston College’s policy on academic integrity?

Boston College has a university-wide statement on Academic Integrity. Additionally, all instructors are encouraged to consult their schools and departments for more specific policies and procedures. The CTE has a resource on cultivating academic integrity that outlines the conditions that contribute to academic dishonesty as well as instructional moves that can foster academic integrity. 

Does Boston College have university-wide policies on grading and attendance?

Boston College’s grading policies for undergraduate and graduate students are outlined in the university catalog, including information about the grading scale, incomplete and deferred grades and grade changes. 

The university catalog also provides university-wide information about attendance, including guidance in the case of prolonged absences and absences due to religious obligation. 

How do I submit book orders?

Course book orders can be submitted through the bookstore website.

Where can I find information about Boston College’s libraries?

  • Locations & Hours: Boston College has many libraries on campus, the locations and hours of which you can find on the Boston College Libraries website. O’Neill Library is the main library on campus, located on Middle Campus. 
  • Course Reserves: Instructors are encouraged to utilize the Course Reserves system and can submit requests through an online form
  • Subject Librarians: Additionally, the Subject Librarians are incredibly helpful and assist in finding, creating, and making available resources for both research and course projects. 
  • More information: BC Libraries page on Services for Graduate Students provides an overview of available resources.  

Course Logistics 

How can I request a classroom?

Classroom Requests can be made if you would like to hold class at a different time or location than regularly scheduled. Additionally, the Center for Teaching Excellence has facilities, such as a recording studio, innovation lab, active learning and technology-enabled classrooms, available for reservation.

How do I find information about and communicate with my students?

Most information about your students can be found in Agora Portal. After logging in with your BC username and password, the “Academics and Courses” section of “My Services” includes links to class rosters, email distribution lists, and Canvas. ITS provides guidance on how to send emails to your class. You can also send messages and post announcements in Canvas. 

When and where do my classes meet?

Instructors should reference the Academic Calendar to note when classes are in session and the timing of breaks. Course locations can be found on Agora Portal through the “Course Information and Schedule” link; the BC Campus Map can then help you find these locations on campus.

What can I expect my classroom to be like? 

Classroom setups and available technology differs across campus. You can find more information about your specific classroom—including pictures, floor plans, and available technology—on the Classroom Profiles page. 

What do I need to know about class recordings?

During Fall 2021, classes held in a classroom equipped with lecture capture technology will be automatically recorded.  By default, class recordings will not be available to students unless instructors proactively make them available. If your classes will be recorded and you would like those recordings to be made available to students, see how to quickly make all recordings available automatically or make individual recordings available as needed. If you’d like more granular control over your Panopto videos, you can view our guide to managing your Panopto folder.

To learn more about the university’s expectations around course recordings, see the Classroom Recording Guidance in the Faculty Handbook.

What do I need to know about grading? 

The Office of Student Services provides information about when grades are due and how to submit final grades.

How do I find out if the school is closed for inclement weather?

Beginning at 6:00 AM the day of the closure, information will be posted to the main BC webpage and emailed to BC email accounts. BC also provides a notification service via text message. You can opt into this alert system when setting up your contact information through the Agora Portal by providing a cell phone number. For more information, see Emergency Management’s Communication page

Rights and Responsibilities 

Where can I read the graduate student handbook?

Links to specific Graduate Student Handbooks are available through the Graduate Academic Regulations section of the University Catalog, along with university-wide policies and procedures. If you’re hoping to get a feel for the university’s culture, the Provost’s Office produces and posts the Faculty Handbook each year.

What do I need to know about the privacy of student data?

Instructors are expected to adhere to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which covers the data privacy rights of university students.

What do I need to know about students’ right to a safe environment?

All instructors should review Boston College’s Title IX reporting policies and procedures, and familiarize themselves with their responsibilities.

What do I need to know about reporting incidents of bias?

Instructors can review Boston College’s process for reporting hate crimes and bias-motivated offenses.

What do I need to know if I suspect a student is in significant distress or experiencing a mental health crisis? 

Instructors can review the guide for supporting students of concern for information about how best to support students and make a referral. The guide also reviews mandatory reporting responsibilities regarding suicidality and steps to take if you are with a student who is experiencing a psychological emergency. 

What do I need to know about accessing accommodations for a disability? 

The Office of Institutional Diversity coordinates reasonable accommodations for BC employees, including graduate student instructors. If you’d like to touch base with someone prior to starting the official process, Edilma Hosein can confidentially answer any questions you may have. 

How can I communicate about my rights and responsibilities to students? 

The CTE’s resource on sample syllabus statements provides an overview of common syllabus statements, including those the university expects instructors to include (e.g. learning accommodations, religious accommodations, etc.) and statement types many instructors include to communicate their values and commitments to students (e.g. commitment to inclusion, technology in the classroom, etc.). 

Student Services and Support

Where can I direct students with questions about university policies and procedures?

The university catalog can help guide students through questions about important policies and procedures and the registrar website includes information about registration. Boston College also has an extensive advising program.

What support is available for students with disabilities and/or those seeking accommodations?

Boston College’s Disability Accommodation Policies can be found in the university catalog. Students seeking support for a learning disability or ADHD should connect with the Connors Family Learning Center (CFLC), while students with hearing, visual, mobility, medical, and psychiatric disabilities should consult the Disability Services Office. Both offices can also consult with instructors about meeting the needs of specific students. 

What tutoring and academic support is available on campus?

Informal tutoring is available to all students through the Connors Family Learning Center (CFLC) and writing help can be found through the Online Writing Lab (OWL) or the Writing Center.

Where can students find additional support on campus? 

  • Campus Ministry provides space for students to make sense of their life and work in conversation with their faith tradition. All campus ministry staff can accompany students through their collegiate journey. The office also provides opportunities for pastoral counseling in individual and group settings. 
  • Learning to Learn supports first generation college students through a number of programs and services.
  • Montserrat provides confidential support for students with the highest level of financial need, helping students find community and have a robust college experience.
  • The Office of Health Promotion runs a variety of programs and support services for students looking to think and act holistically about their health, from healthy relationships to sleep to nutrition. Students can find resources or enroll in wellness coaching. 
  • The Office of International Students and Scholars runs a variety of programs for international students and can also assist with immigration documentation, travel, and understanding the finances of living abroad.
  • Due to the demands of their schedules, varsity athletes are supported through the Student-Athlete Academic Services (SAAS) department. Mid-semester, instructors receive surveys from LRSA where they can express concerns about the academic performance of any student-athletes in their courses. You may also see observers from SAAS in your Canvas courses. If you have any questions about SAAS observers, you can contact Akua Sarr, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs.  
  • Student Outreach and Support Services supports students in distress or those experiencing a mental health crisis. Staff in that office also provide resources to LGBTQ students.  
  • The Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center provides various programs that focus on supporting AHANA (individuals of African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian-American and Native American descent) and multiracial students.
  • University Counseling Services provides a range of free services to students, including individual and group therapy and self-care resources. 
  • The Women’s Center provides programming, resources, and support for students pursuing general and particular questions regarding gender and sexuality, and houses the Sexual Assault Network hotline and CARE Team.

General Campus Information and Resources 

How can I find contact information about members of the Boston College community?

Contact information for Boston College community members can be found on the Campus Directory page, where you can search by name or scan by department. Additionally, you can access a list of Quick Phone Numbers and Email Addresses

Where can I find information about the university’s vacation schedule?

The office holiday schedule is available through Human Resources. The Academic Calendar lists class breaks.

What is the best way to get to and from campus?

Boston College’s Transportation and Parking website has a wealth of resources regarding parking on campus, for both daily use and on special event days. The website also has tips on commuting to campus, and information about the BC Shuttles–which run locally around Brighton and between Main Campus and the Newton Campus–and their schedules.

Where can I eat on campus?

BC Dining Services have locations throughout Upper, Middle, and Lower Campus, as well the Newton and Brighton Campuses. Hours and menus vary by location.

Campus Culture and Community 

Where can I find more statistical information about BC? 

The Office of Institutional Research & Planning provides statistical information about BC. The at-a-glance documents provide a concise overview of the institution, while the fact book provides more detailed information in the context of the university’s mission and chronology. You can also review summaries of recent surveys of students and faculty.  

What should I know about BC’s Jesuit, Catholic heritage? 

Boston College is rooted in a Jesuit, Catholic tradition. Instructors are often exposed to that aspect of the university in conversations about student formation, or the goal of an education that asks students to activate and integrate their intellect, social consciousness, and spiritual life, especially as it relates to the Renewed Core program. Additionally, some instructors find the Ignatian Pedagogy framework a helpful way to approach their teaching. 

How can I learn more about what’s going on on campus?

BC’s student newspapers provide information about campus happenings during the semester: 

  • The Heights: BC’s primary, independent student newspaper 
  • The Gavel: A progressive student newspaper 
  • The Torch: A Catholic campus newspaper 

If you’re on social media, many campus offices and student organizations have a presence on Twitter and Instagram that you can find with a quick search. Some students have also been using social media to document their experiences on campus, like the Black at Boston College Instagram account.  

Whether or not you’re on social media, undergraduate students often have faster access to information about campus happenings than faculty, staff, or graduate students. Checking in with students about current events on campus in office hours and class sessions can help you get a better sense of the campus climate at any given time.

What other activities are important on Boston College’s campus?

As a Jesuit institution, Boston College has a Division of Mission & Ministry that serves all members of the Boston College community. Boston College also prides itself on its strong athletic tradition. Instructors may be interested in attending varsity athletic events or joining campus recreation programs. Finally, Boston College provides a number of cultural offerings. Instructors might want to explore the McMullen Museum of Art or take in a student theater performance. The Arts Calendar is a centralized list of the various performances, lectures, and exhibits on display across campus.