One of the great surprises of earning my M.A. in English was having the chance to teach Writing 102 at The College of New Jersey as a practicum class. I suspected that I would like teaching, but I didn’t realize that engaging with students, coaching them, and building their confidence would become a passion. My first semester of teaching changed the trajectory of my career and helped me make the decision to pursue academia so I could continue to work with students.
I have taught two classes at TCNJ:
- Writing 101, a first-semester studio workshop that assists remedial students with the writing tasks of their First Seminar Programs
- Writing 102, a second-semester class that teaches students the principles of academic writing through the drafting and revision process
Writing 101 is a unique class because each of the eight students is usually in a different FSP, and therefore their topics and assignments are varied. Likewise, each individual’s writing challenges are different, and therefore I differentiate my instructional methods based on individual students needs. The course structure fosters this approach where I meet with the full class once per week, and the have individual student conferences every other week, giving me the one-on-one time that each student needs.
This course is important for helping students to understand the principles of college-level writing and develop good writing habits early in their college coursework. It also boosts their confidence in their ability to improve their writing skills.
Writing 102 is a themed course, and for the past four years I have themed my course on travel. Some of the topics we’ve explored as a class include:
- Slum tourism
- The tourist vs. traveler debate
- Visual rhetoric in travel advertising
- Travel as a political act
- Adventure travel
The framework for the class uses a drafting process leading up to three formal papers.
- At the beginning of a unit, I first hand out the formal paper assignment and assignment-specific rubric that communicates the goal, task, guidelines, and expectations.
- Then, the students work through readings and scaffolded assignments that help them practice the skills they need in a low-stakes environment.
- In class, we brainstorm ideas through small groups, and then students draft thesis statements and write outlines.
- Each student then writes three drafts of each paper spread over a three-week time period: a first draft, second draft, and final draft. I provide detailed feedback aligned with the rubric to each student on both the first and second draft to help with the process of revision.
- As a final step, each student writes a short reflective essay at the end of each assignment to pause and note what was challenging, what s/he learned, and what s/he wants to continue working on in the future.