A normal teaching load for graduate instructors (GIs) is one course each semester. All GIs teach ENGL 10803 Writing as Inquiry both semesters of their first year of teaching and ENGL 20803 Writing as Argument the first semester of their second year. Themed versions of ENGL 10803 or 20803 may be proposed after teaching a non-themed version of the course.
After teaching ENGL 10803 and ENGL 20803, GIs may request a 1000-level or 2000-level literature (LT Core), writing/rhetoric, or women's and gender studies (WGST) course, if they are eligible. Course requests beyond WCO and LT Core courses are available when WCO and LT Core courses are fully staffed. These course assignments are competitive.
All new graduate instructors are required to attend a workshop before fall semester classes begin. New GIs also receive a stipend for participating in the workshop. The purpose of the workshop is to introduce GIs to the composition program at TCU, especially the ENGL 10803 common syllabus that is used by all first-year GIs.
Common Syllabus & Syllabus Template
The current common syllabus is the Connections Syllabus, and focuses on four types of inquiry: narrative, text-based, ethnographic, and reflective. A common syllabus may seem constraining, especially for experienced teachers. However, using a common syllabus in the first year fosters collaboration, limits teaching preparation, provides a quick initiation into the common outcomes of TCU WCO courses, and gives undergraduate students a sense of having roughly the same first-year composition experience. After using the ENGL 10803 common syllabus in the fall, graduate instructors may revise their spring syllabus based on WCO writing program outcomes.
GIs create their own syllabi for ENGL 20803, though the Composition Program has developed a template that may be used as the basis of an instructor's course. The template includes four assignments (rhetorical analysis, defining a problem, proposing a solution/intervention, and personal argument) as well as rhetorical concepts that are relevant to each project.
Graduate Instructor Requirements
ENGL 60513: Teaching College Composition (TCC)
All first-year graduate instructors (GIs) enroll in a 3-credit graduate course, ENGL 60513 Teaching College Composition (TCC), taught by the director of composition. In TCC, GIs keep a teaching journal, read pedagogical theory, share teaching activities, develop individual teaching philosophies, visit other classes (and are visited), and prepare a draft of a teaching portfolio, which is required of all GIs each spring as part of their annual evaluation and re-appointment.
Preparing to Teach ENGL 20803/ Support for 20803
As an extension of TCC, in the spring semester of their first year, graduate instructors attend bi-weekly meetings to prepare for teaching ENGL 20803 Writing as Argument. Drafts of ENGL 20803 syllabi for the following fall are due at the end of the spring semester with a final check-in prior to the start of classes in the fall. ENGL 20803 syllabi must be completed in full and approved for GIs to remain in good standing. Three professional development meetings are required during the first semester a GI teaches ENGL 20803: one before the start of classes, one at midterm, and one near the end of the semester.
Teaching Themed WCO Courses
Graduate instructors who want to propose a themed course must first teach (or be in the process of teaching) a non-themed version of the course. This requirement allows teachers to become acquainted with the course outcomes and with students’ interests and skills before adding a theme. More information about themed courses can be found here.
Continuing Professional Development
TCU takes seriously its responsibility to train graduate instructors to be effective university teachers. Toward that end, all GIs are expected to participate in ongoing pedagogical professional development. To remain in good standing, GIs must document an average of 3 hours of teaching-related professional development per semester. (This requirement is waived during semesters when graduate students have administrative or research appointments.)
All graduate instructors prepare a teaching portfolio each year. The portfolio functions as a space for GIs to reflect on the previous year’s teaching, as a means for the director of composition to provide feedback on teaching, and as the basis for awarding the Graduate Instructor of the Year. An up-to-date teaching portfolio is also an excellent resource when conducting a job search.