The Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

Please Note: The nomination window for Spring 2024 has closed. The nomination window will reopen in Spring 2025.

The Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards (OTAA) recognize outstanding graduate student teaching assistants (TAs) for their distinguished contributions to student learning through excellence in instruction. The nomination and application processes for this award were previously managed by the Program for Instructional Excellence (PIE) and are now managed by the Center for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT).

TAs who receive a nomination for an award must meet the eligibility requirements described below to submit a portfolio for award consideration. If you are eligible, you are not required to submit a portfolio—the nomination itself is an achievement that we encourage you to include in your CV—but you are welcome to do so. The portfolio submission process is intended for those who would like to compete for one of the monetary awards.

TAs must verify their eligibility to apply for the award and submit a portfolio (described below) by 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 25th. Recipients will receive a $750 cash award and recognition at the annual University-wide Celebration of Graduate Student Excellence, details TBD. For updates on the celebration, please check The Graduate School website.

Eligibility

It is the nominee’s responsibility to ensure that they are eligible to receive the OTAA award. In order to be eligible, nominees must meet the following criteria:

  • Current FSU or FAMU-FSU College of Engineering degree-seeking graduate student hired as a teaching assistant (face-to-face or online) and in good academic standing.
  • TA at FSU for two completed semesters, at least one of which must have been during the Spring 2023, Summer 2023, and/or Fall 2023 semesters. Please note that the Spring 2024 semester does not constitute a complete semester, as it is still in progress.
  • Previous OTAA recipients and current PIE Teaching Associates are not eligible for the award but may be nominated.

Submission Process for Award Consideration

Teaching Statement

  • This is a one- to two-page document that describes your philosophy and approach to teaching. What do you intend to achieve with your teaching? What theories and/or evidence inform your practice? What methods do you use to facilitate learning? Why do you use those methods? Think of your teaching statement as the “theme” of your overall portfolio that helps you choose other supporting documents.

Course Narrative

  • This is a one- to two-page document that describes one of your graduate student TA experiences teaching at FSU.
  • The class should be recent (i.e., Spring, Summer, or Fall 2023. We cannot accept Spring 2024 for the course narrative because it is not a complete semester).
  • The course narrative should include (but is not limited to):
    • What was the course, and what were your teaching responsibilities in it?
    • What were the goals for students’ learning and development?
    • What methods did you use to help students’ achieve those learning goals?
    • What were the outcomes? What did you notice about your teaching methods and their effects on learning?

Reflection on Professional Development in Teaching

  • This is a one- to two-page document that explores how you have been developing as a college-level teacher, and how you would like to continue to develop in the future. You might reflect on details such as:
    • What teaching professional development opportunities have you sought out?
    • What did you learn from those opportunities?
    • How have you grown as a teacher during your time as a graduate teaching assistant?
    • Is there anything you would change about your teaching approach or the courses you have been a TA for?
    • How would you like to grow as a teacher in the future?

Letter of Recommendation from a Faculty/Staff Member

  • The faculty or staff member should be someone who has observed or is otherwise familiar with your teaching and can attest to it in a LOR.
  • The LOR should be included in your portfolio. You can collect and include it, or if your letter writer would rather send us the letter directly than share it with you to include, they should email it to us at teaching-assistants@fsu.edu no later than the portfolio submission deadline.

Optional – Feedback

  • SPCI forms with specific feedback you would like to showcase from students
  • Other forms of feedback (formal or informal) from students, faculty, or colleagues on your teaching
  • Please include no more than 3 optional examples

Optional – Teaching Artifacts

  • Assignments/activities you created
  • Syllabus you designed
  • Screenshots of courses you built
  • Lesson plans
  • Any other items you feel showcase what you do in the classroom that facilitates learning
  • Please include no more than 3 optional examples

In order to submit your teaching portfolio, you will need to self-enroll into the OTAA 2023-2024 Canvas site via this link: https://canvas.fsu.edu/enroll/CKCYD9

FAQ

How has the OTAA nomination process changed for the 2023-2024 award cycle?
The OTAA was previously managed by the Program for Instructional Excellence. In Spring 2024, PIE officially merged with CAT. We worked to refine the portfolio process and create a more streamlined, learner-centered portfolio requirement for award consideration.

If I am nominated for the award, does this mean I automatically receive the monetary prize?
No. Eligible TAs may choose to submit a portfolio for consideration in the optional competition portion of the award process. Once submitted, the portfolios go through multiple rounds of review. In the final review round, 6 individuals are selected to receive the monetary prize.

If I am eligible to submit a portfolio for consideration, am I required to submit a portfolio?
No. The portfolio/competition part of the process is entirely optional. If you would simply like to save your nomination message/comments, this is completely acceptable.

What happens if I was nominated for the award, but I do not meet eligibility requirements?
If you are not eligible to submit a portfolio for consideration for the monetary award, we encourage you to save your nomination message/comments and add the nomination year to your CV or resume. Being nominated for the award is a great achievement in and of itself!

Do I need to have served as the instructor of record/primary instructor to be considered for the monetary award?
No. We consider all graduate student TA roles that took place at FSU in the portfolio submission process. Please just be sure you have verified that you meet the listed eligibility requirements and that the TA experience covered in your portfolio course narrative was a graduate student TA experience at FSU.

What is the difference between the Teaching Statement and Course Narrative components of the teaching portfolio?
The teaching statement is an introduction to who you are as an educator. It outlines your approach (both theoretical and practical) to teaching. You may choose to talk about the goals of your teaching, the methodologies you use and why you use them, the outcomes for students, etc. We highly recommend that you balance philosophies, theories, or your general approach with describing specific actions you take in the classroom to support that approach. The course narrative, by contrast, is an in-depth exploration and recounting of one specific instance of your graduate student TA experience at FSU (e.g., one full class you served as a TA for). The course narrative can draw on the themes in your teaching statement and serve as an example of your philosophy in action in a specific context.

For the letter of recommendation component—can the faculty or staff member who nominated me for the award be the person who writes the letter of recommendation?
Yes. The letter should come from the faculty/staff member who can best comment on your teaching. It is fine if this is also the person who nominated you. They may choose to write a completely new letter, or they can recycle and build on the comments used in the nomination they submitted for you.

How do I submit my teaching portfolio?
If you are eligible and would like to submit a portfolio, please self-enroll into the OTAA 2023-2024 Canvas site by clicking this link: https://canvas.fsu.edu/enroll/CKCYD9. Through this Canvas site, you can access support documents for portfolio creation, receive announcements about submission deadlines, and submit your complete portfolio. We ask that you submit the portfolio as a single PDF via Canvas.

Can I submit my portfolio late?
No. Due to the strict timeline for reviewing portfolio submissions, we cannot accept late portfolios. We apologize for any inconvenience!

What does the portfolio review process look like?
The first round of portfolio submissions is reviewed by a team of highly experienced, department-recommended TAs at FSU. The top 10 portfolios with the highest scores are then sent to a committee of 3 to 4 faculty, who select the final 6 recipients for the monetary award.

What factors could result in my portfolio being disqualified for award consideration?
If your portfolio is missing any required components (e.g., the teaching statement, course narrative, etc.), we cannot accept it for review, and we cannot provide revision opportunities due to the strict award process timeline. Documents such as your teaching statement, course narrative, and reflection must be your own original work. If these documents contain writing that is produced by AI or that is copied and pasted from other sources, we cannot accept the portfolio. Please note that it is acceptable to quote or paraphrase from sources in your documents if you give credit to the original authors with signal phrases/attributive tags. (You do not need to include a separate bibliography or list of references.) We expect that all TAs nominated for this high honor already abide by the academic honor policy.