The department recognizes that teaching experience makes an important contribution to graduate study. Graduate students receiving their first teaching assignment can expect to teach two sections (per semester) of English 150 (Composition I). Because the department strives to recognize GTAs as colleagues in the profession, GTAs beyond their first semester of teaching for the department have the opportunity to preference the 100- and 200-level courses that they are most interested in teaching. While matching the interests and qualifications of the teaching staff with the department’s curricular needs is a complicated process, most Composition and Rhetoric graduate students are satisfied with the range of pedagogical opportunities available to them.
Writing Assistance Center
The department’s Writing Assistance Center offers UNL students, faculty and staff highly individualized support for their writing, free of charge. (See the Writing Assistance Center website at http://www.unl.edu/writing). GTAs with appointments in the Writing Assistance Center will spend roughly 10 hours per week conferencing with individuals about their writing and participating in center-based outreach initiatives and/or administrative work in addition to teaching one writing course per semester.
College Teaching Internships (Eng. 895) offers graduate students and faculty the opportunity to work together as teachers in the context of a specific course. The requirements for these internships are negotiated by the graduate student and participating faculty member and then outlined in a written contract that must be approved by the Graduate Committee and filed in the department’s graduate office. Recent College Teaching Internships in Composition and Rhetoric have focused on advanced composition (Eng. 354), composition theory and practice (Eng. 457) and rhetoric (Eng. 376).
Preparation and Support
A Workshop for Newly Appointed GTAs is conducted during the week before classes begin (usually, the third week in August). In addition, a sourcebook of materials on teaching writing (including annotated syllabi, sample assignments, etc.) is distributed in early spring. Both the workshop and the sourcebook are collaboratively developed by faculty and graduate students. The workshop offers GTAs a collaborative atmosphere, access to experienced teachers of first-year writing and some guiding activities to support GTAs in finalizing their syllabi prior to the first day of class.
"Composition Theory and Practice" (English 957), a graduate seminar, is required of all graduate students during their first semester of teaching in the department. This requirement has two premises: (1) Teaching is an important site of scholarly work; and, (2) The field of composition and rhetoric has much to offer graduate students in their ongoing development as teachers and scholars. Consistent with other graduate seminars in the department, this course requires students to read widely in the field and write in response to issues emerging in the reading and in our classrooms. The course also requires a series of projects that connect theory and practice (such as developing assignments, collaborative classroom observations, drafting teaching philosophy statements, engaging in scholarly conversations about specific aspects of teaching writing, etc.).
Writing Teachers Classroom Collaborative is an on-line space dedicated to providing pedagogical resources to the department's writing teachers including official curricular documents describing the goals of the courses (Aim and Scope documents), excerpts of the sourcebook, and discussion forums where teachers can pose questions and/or respond to the others' ideas.
Graduate Student Initiatives for pedagogical support include teaching circles, reading groups, and an annual Pedagogy Conference.