The MA Program in Literature at AU offers several opportunities for interested students to study and engage in the practice of teaching.
The two-semester course sequence, Teaching Composition, is designed for students who wish to teach English.
During the first semester, students take a course that serves as a theoretical and practical introduction to teaching college writing.
The second semester is dedicated to a practicum in which each student is paired with an instructor of College Writing who acts as a mentor. Students learn from their mentors and develop their skills in lesson planning, evaluating students’ work, and leading classes. By the end of the course, students will have created a teaching portfolio, which includes a statement of teaching philosophy, a proposed course with syllabus, and a sample of their lesson plans, writing assignments, and graded student papers.
Students who complete the Teaching Composition sequence are invited to apply for positions as adjunct instructors of College Writing at American University.
Students who receive merit awards have the opportunity to gain teaching experience by working as teaching assistants for faculty members or as writing consultants in AU’s Writing Center.
As teaching assistants, students work closely with a faculty member and assist the professor in carrying out such responsibilities as grading papers and creating exams.
As writing consultants in AU’s Writing Center, graduate students assist undergraduate and other graduate students at any stage in their writing process, including offering feedback on ideas, identifying areas for improvement, and coaching clients in sharpening their editing skills.
Both opportunities provide students with the chance to take part in the preparation and practice of teaching and offer valuable experience to those interested in pursuing a career in the field.
Other Opportunities for Teaching Assistantships
In addition to the two Merit Fellowships granted each year, the MA program also has three other routes by which MA students may gain experience as Teachings Assistants.
1. Federal Work-Study Money: If you are eligible for federal money, then please apply for it. If you receive the funds, then we may be able to assign you as a TA for a course.
2. General Education Faculty Assistance Program (GEFAP): This program, administered by the General Education office, allows professors to ask for specific students to be their Teaching Assistants. If you would like to be a TA, then please let the MA Director know so s/he can approach a professor on your behalf.
3. The TA Club: If the first two options do not work – if you are not eligible for federal work/study money, or if your GEFAP gets turned down – then there is a third alternative available to you. Unlike the first two options, this route does not have funds attached to it, which means that if you would like to be a TA using this method, then it will be an unpaid learning experience, though none the less rigorous for that. If you are interested in this route, then please put your name on a list maintained by your representatives to the MA Committee. If slots are available – and they will often not be available – then you will be matched with a professor most suited to your interests as a student. Your interaction during the semester will be governed by a list of rules generated by the MA students themselves.
Writing Center Consultants
The Writing Center at AU provides a place where undergraduate and graduate students can receive helpful ideas and feedback on their writing from their peers. Each year, new and continuing graduate students are selected to work in the Writing Center as writing consultants. This opportunity provides valuable training and preparation for consultants who wish to teach writing. New writing consultants participate in a four-week training orientation. After completing the orientation, consultants work alongside clients—typically for five to ten hours a week—to assist them at any stage in their writing, including offering clients feedback on ideas, identifying areas for improvement, and coaching in strengthening a thesis or improving editing skills. Through this experience, writing consultants become better readers and writers, not only of others’ work but also of their own writing.