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Conditions of Employment for Teaching Assistants and Instructors

Expectations of Graduate Teaching Assistants

As graduate teaching assistants you serve as role models for your students. The Department looks to you to act in a professional manner in both behavior and dress. It is also expected that you will support the department, the faculty, and fellow graduate students by attending and helping to organize departmental functions such as lectures, workshops, conferences and cultural events. Such active participation enriches your intellectual life and professional preparation and contributes to the vital exchange of ideas within the Department.

General Conditions

Deviation from the rules stipulated here constitutes a breach of contract and may result in termination.

  • Teach the class assigned by the Coordinator or Department Chair and follow the class schedule as specified in the syllabus.
  • Follow all guidelines and rules of the syllabus.
  • Attend all meetings called by the Coordinator and/or Department Chair.
  • Attend Orientation Week activities conducted every year before the beginning of Fall semester.
  • Attend all practicum sessions.
  • Enroll in SPAN 541 Research and Methods for Teaching Spanish or SPAN 549 Recent Research Methods for Teaching Spanish as a Heritage Language, during the first fall semester of employment at UNM, regardless of prior experience elsewhere.
  • Keep at least three office hours per week, or 1.5 hours per class taught (including summer semester) to be posted on office doors and communicated to students. These office hours should be held ideally at different times and days (e.g., Mon. 8:30 – 9:30, Tues. 10:30 – 11:30, Fri. 1:30 – 2:30).
  • Keep office hours as posted, if office hours are changed, inform the Language Instruction Administrative Assistant.
  • Discourage students from calling the main office except for emergencies.
  • If sick, or otherwise unable to teach an assigned class, find a substitute in consultation with the Coordinator, in compliance with the substitute policy.
  • Arrange to pick up exams and other materials the working day prior to use in the class.
  • Follow any other rules or regulations set forth by the Coordinator, the Chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and the Departmental Graduate Advisor.
  • TAs must maintain a minimum of 9 credit hours of approved graduate courses for the entire duration of the term for which the assistantship is awarded, except for the semester that the student takes comprehensive exams, when 6 credit hours are required. Any change of registration which a) causes the total number of hours to drop below this minimum, or b) has not been appropriately approved may result in an immediate revocation of the teaching assistantship.

If, as a TA, you have difficulties with a student, there are three steps to follow:

  1. You should try to resolve the situation first by speaking privately with the student.
  2. If this does not resolve the situation, you should meet with the student and the Coordinator.
  3. If the situation is still not resolved, then you, the student, and the Coordinator should meet with the Chair.
  • Switch sections or cancel classes without prior approval from the Coordinator.
  • Make changes in classroom or office assignments without consulting the Coordinator.
  • Give a student waiting to get into the Teaching Assistant’s class permission to do so.
  • Sign Enrollment Authorization forms or send students who want to enter their class to see the Coordinator. (Students must attempt to add an open class online).

UNM Graduate Instructor / Teaching Assistantship Contract

  • The first day of class, TAs/instructors will go over the class syllabus carefully to make sure that the students fully understand what is expected of them. They should make sure that students comprehend the departmental policies listed on the syllabus. This includes the necessity of the student taking a Placement Evaluation (for all students taking a beginning Spanish language course) and/or turning in a printout of their placement results to the instructor. The instructors are to collect placement results or, for continuing students, verify course placement via an unofficial transcript from every student no later than the fourth class session.
  • A TA/Instructor will keep a class record with all students’ names, attendance, and results of class work, and at the end of the semester must turn them in to the Coordinator. A back-up copy of the records should be maintained at all times.
  • A TA/Instructor will turn in to the Main Office a copy of their semester schedule which is to include class(es) being taught and taken, their location, office hours, e-mail, and home telephone number. This is to be handed in the first week of class.
  • During the last week of class all TAs/Instructors are to have their students fill out Individual Development and Educational Assessment (IDEA) forms. A student volunteer from each class should collect these forms and take them to the departmental office, Room 235 Ortega Hall. When they become available, that is, after the evaluations are returned from Information Technology Services (ITS), the Coordinator will check them and return them to the TAs/Instructors with the appropriate comments. The TA/Instructor will then discuss them with the Coordinator.
  • Assistantship recipients who suffer a serious medical condition requiring absence from assigned duties for two consecutive weeks may be granted, upon written request to the head of the graduate unit and the program coordinator, a two-week sick leave without loss of stipend. After this leave, the student will be paid only for the time the assistantship responsibilities were fulfilled.
  • Exams (including the final exam) must be given on the date specified on the exam schedule; the TA/Instructor is to hand out each exam individually to the students. After the exams have been corrected and discussed in class, the TA must collect all exams. Students are not to keep any exams, since they are the property of the department (although they may keep quizzes). All exams must be administered as scheduled; thus no exam may be omitted under any circumstances.
  • A TA/Instructor will grade all exams and quizzes promptly and follow the Coordinator’s guidelines for grading and make-up exams.
  • Final exams, electronic grade files, and a copy of the gradebook, are to be handed in to the Coordinator no later than one week after final exams are given and will be kept by the Department for one year after their administration. All extra copies of the Final Exam are to be returned to the Language Instruction Adminsitrative Assistant’s office.
  • See Coordinator for quiz/exam guidelines.
  • A TA/Instructor may not reveal to students the contents of an exam. A TA/Instructor may inform students of the format of the exam.
  • A TA/Instructor will give the Coordinator a copy of all quizzes, handouts or any other material handed out in class.

In the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, parental or medical leave will be granted in accordance with the Office of Graduate Studies’ (OGS) policy on medical leave. The OGS medical leave policy will be extended to cover new parents (either through adoption, birth of a new child, or a child’s serious illness). Teaching Assistants are responsible for finding their own substitute to teach their courses and communicating with the coordinator of their respective programs regarding all plans and progress prior to the formal written request for the two-week sick leave to the department head. (Note: The Department can not provide financial compensation for substitutes, but will aid in establishing a pool of volunteers).

  • Graduate students holding a teaching assistantship are allowed to work a maximum of 10 hours per week in employment outside the Department.
  • International Students should check with the Office of International Programs for any additional regulations or limitations regarding working hours over the TAship hours.

There are a limited number of teaching assistantships available for the Summer session. Priority will be given to those applicants who did not teach the previous summer. Assistants who begin their employment in the Spring term will be considered only if there are enough teaching positions available to accommodate all other applicants. Arts and Science Teaching Assistants are considered only after departmental Teaching Assistants. Should there be more applicants than jobs available, the following criteria will be used in selecting Summer Teaching Assistants:

  • Academic Progess: GPA; Progress toward the degree.
  • Teaching: IDEA; Coordinator observations; Number of previous semesters taught.
  • Service to the Department.