Head TAs (or HTAs) work with the professor to coordinate all aspects of a course during a given semester.
HTAs are hired each midsemester for the following semester's courses. They are hired by the professor based on input from the head TAs. The hiring process is coordinated by the meta-TAs.
Note that, it is often the case that, in order to facilitate course development in advance of the semester the course is being offered, some of the HTAs may be selected farther in advance. If you're interested in HTAing a course (and doing course development, in particular), it's to your advantage to start discussing it with the professor as much as two semesters in advance.
A Head Teaching Assistant plays a very different role in the life of a class than does a UTA. The role of HTA requires more attention to administrative details, more meetings and organization, and often more time. This role can be more rewarding than being a UTA, however, because it really gives you the chance to work directly with a professor on a class. This document will outline some of the expectations of HTAs, how you fit into the department, and what you should expect from this position.
As an HTA, there are certain expectations that are placed on you from the time that you accept the job. In addition to the responsibilities of a UTA, Head TAs are expected to start thinking about their class from the moment they are hired:
- You are expected to be part of the hiring process that chooses the UTA staff, and you should work with your fellow HTAs (if any) and the professor in charge of the class on this.
- You should be back before the semester begins, so you can start preparing for the semester, make sure there are no last minute problems, be available for HTA meetings and prepare for the arrival of your UTA staff.
- During the semester you should be in constant contact with your TA staff, as well as the professor and the Meta-TAs.
- Over the course of the semester, you should serve as the coordinator for the class, as well as a mentor for your UTAs.
Other important issues
Along with these, you should be watching the progress of the class, and at first sight of problems, you should seek help or take action. What does this mean? It means that you really need to take an active leadership role, and help solve problems, or even work to make sure that problems don't arise. If things get out of hand, or if a problem arises that makes you nervous or unsure how to proceed, you should not hesitate to contact the Meta-TAs.
The role of HTA is more open and flexible than that of a UTA. You should do whatever you feel is important to keep the class running smoothly, keep lines of communications open, and make sure that your UTAs, are having fun. And you should have fun!