English 8903: Teaching College English

English 8903 is a teaching internship with a faculty member, which students must complete before they can be assigned to teach any of the 2000-level literature, language, or folklore courses. English 7881.02 (Teaching Basic Writing), 7881.03 (Teaching of College Composition in English as a Second Language), and 7881.04 (Teaching Business and Professional Communication) may be substituted for 8903 by students whose teaching interests include basic writing, ESL, and/or business and professional writing. However, 8903 will be a prerequisite for teaching the relevant 2000-level courses (just as the 7881 series is now a prerequisite for teaching the specialized writing courses).

English 8903 carries 1-3 credit hours. The course may be repeated. In order to coordinate their teaching interests with scheduled courses, students planning 8903 should also consult theundergraduate course offerings and faculty teaching them.

Faculty and students will have considerable flexibility in constructing the day-to-day details of the apprenticeship, but a typical pattern would look something like this:

  • Student and professor agree to do 8903 in an upcoming semester.
  • When the book order requests are distributed, the professor and student meet to discuss which books they will use and why.
  • At some point before the course starts, the professor and student meet to discuss the course syllabus. They consider such matters as the objectives of the course and how best to design the schedule of readings, the students' writing assignments, and the classroom atmosphere so that those objectives can be met.
  • As the course progresses, the professor and student meet to talk about the course goals and the pedagogical means they will use to meet them. In addition, they consider how the goals of the upcoming sessions fit in with the overall goals of the course. 
  • Before writing assignments (including exams), professor and student discuss what they want to achieve and how they might design the assignment to reach those goals.
  • The professor must take responsibility for all grades assigned in the course, but the student may assist in grading by reading, commenting, and assigning possible grades to a subset of the papers or exams. Since the student is an apprentice and not a TA, however, the point of this work is not to lighten the faculty member's load but rather to provide the occasion for discussion of criteria for different grades, how to address students in commentary, and so on. In all cases, the professor must read the papers marked by the apprentice and assign the final grades.
  • The student takes primary responsibility for some teaching, in the range of two hours of instruction over the course of the semester. The professor observes the student's teaching in order to provide guidance and feedback.
  • After the course is over, the professor and student read the student evaluations and discuss them as well as their own assessments of what worked and what didn't.
  • The course is graded S/U, and the faculty member may write a graduate report. (The faculty member should also be prepared to write a letter of recommendation for the student's dossier.)
  • The student may write a report on the apprentice experience, reflecting on how her or his thinking about pedagogy has been influenced by 8903.

In general, the idea of the internship is to give the student the opportunity to work closely with a faculty member on everything from the design of a course to its day-to-day operations, from its goals and purposes to its grading and evaluation.

Students may work with a professor in any undergraduate course. No more than two students may sign up for 8903 with the same professor and the same course in any one semester. Students must take 8903 before they are assigned their own sections of 2000-level courses, but they need to take 8903 only once as a general preparation for that teaching. In other words, students do not have to take a new 8903 for every new 2000-level course they teach.

Of course, students will generally gravitate toward courses in their areas and in the areas where they would most like to teach. Below are the usual links between 8903 experiences and the assignment of undergraduate courses, but graduate students should have considerable leeway in choosing their apprenticeships and those assigning graduate students to 2000-level courses should have some flexibility in making those assignments.

For example, 4520.01 will count for 2200 and 2201; 4560 for 2260; 4561 for 2261; 4550 and 4551 for 2290.

When students are assigned their own 2000-level class, they will consult with a faculty mentor (ideally the person whose class they observed, but possibly the course director or their advisor) on the preparation of the syllabus and other issues relating to the class. The faculty member will observe the class at least once and write a report for the Course Director.