Reading Room 11/13: Creating the Teaching Professor: Guiding Graduate Students to Become Effective Teachers-The Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Journal: The Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Heading into graduate school, the goal should be becoming an effective college professor and make sure you are adequately prepared for each class.  This is exactly what the article entails here and systematically goes through step by step.  In the article “Creating the Teaching Professor: Guiding Graduate Students to Become Effective Teachers” by Ronald J. Weber, Ann Gabbert, Joanne Kropp, and Patrick Pynes, this group of researchers demonstrate their learning experiences with being a History Professor.

The alterations are being put in place when it comes to helping graduate students become college professors.  Weber, Gabbert, Kropp, and Pynes compiled a bunch of stories on their journey into teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso.  All of this became beneficial because this study is being done on the History Teaching and Learning Seminar in the History Ph.D. program at the University of Texas at El Paso.  The research being made in this article looked at the teamwork with graduate students and how they found great teaching tools.  With this process, the graduate students (who participated) found out that being a listener is monumental in teaching, effectiveness outweighs the idea of finding new teaching skills, and that the system for teaching college teachers needs so much work in which sets up student academics to be a teacher.  The researchers primarily worked with Scholarship, which was extremely crucial in this process because it made sure these students moved up with the material.  For example, the researchers said this about teaching, “Teaching was broadly conceived as the dissemination of content knowledge to students” (Weber, Gabbert, Kropp, and Pynes, 2007).  Professors are not supposed to know everything when it comes to their field of study.  In fact, they are just as much of a student of education as undergraduate students.

This seminar gave students different aspects which helps practice becoming a teacher and blend the dynamics of teaching and scholarship as well.  However, what the problem is that graduate students try to imitate their professors from the past and blend their teaching methods as well.  This is very concerning because the graduate students ignore the current undergraduate students’ routines to learn.

What the researchers did in this study is that they asked all of the graduate students in the course to gather a portfolio in relation to academia.  In other words, they would include their method of researching and what their goals are in teaching.  To have a comparative look at teaching vs learning, these graduate students have only just begun thinking about how a student improves.

What the researchers found is that the graduate students adapted effectively as they shape who they are as a person.  For example, the researchers commented on the seminar’s goals even further, “In addition to treating young academics as students, the seminar also leads them to think and act as teachers by planning and organizing a college class”(Weber, Gabbert, Kropp, and Pynes, 2007).  Graduate students should look at young students as human beings in education because it removes this dehumanizing notion of becoming a college professor.  The relationship between a student and teacher needs to have clarity and more importantly, these graduate students in training should be organized with their field of study.

I found this article to be very helpful as a first-year graduate student in English Literature/Creative Writing because I am taking a seminar class on something similar to the study. The class is called the teaching practicum in Creative Writing.  In this class, we voice our concerns as a graduate instructional assistant and provide ample case studies.  Within these narratives, it sets us up to become future professors at the college level.  However, after reading this article, my anxiety level as a graduate student decreases a bit.  I know many of my peers in that class have been nervous about giving a lecture for the first time and sometimes they are critical after the presentation.  But what this article taught me is that you need to know the culture of the classroom.  It is so imperative to ensure your teaching philosophy is consistent throughout your career.  In the end, it is all about practicing and training graduate students to be the future college professors of the 21st century.

This article gives me a new outlook on how I want to conduct my last case study for the semester in my practicum class.  I need to think of this question: do I truly understand the class?  Do I understand them and can relate to them as a student teacher when we do group work?  It is something I need to explore deeper and further as I transition into my second semester.

Reflections on the Annotation Comrades assignment

This assignment was so challenging and quite a risk because I knew Creative Writing professors have never used online annotation as a tool for their courses.  I truly understood that some of my ideas with the annotation comrades lesson plan could be taken as outlandish and unusual.  As someone who has taken English Literature and Creative Writing classes at San Francisco State University for 3 years now, it was a worthy chance to be able to make online annotation a great useful assignment just because there are options to make the activity interactive.  When I mean interactive, I look at the authentic way in which students look at a piece of poem/short story/monologue/excerpts from a novel contextually and practice more close reading to this assignment (I was reading an article in the Writer’s Chronicle on the Midrash method in Jewish culture when I was thinking about that).  However, after reading my peer’s feedback on this assignment (and talking at great lengths with my Creative Writing Professor), hearing and reading the feedback was beneficial.  For example, my comrade made note of “students need guidance- they might need to be told what to do and how to do it” (annotation comrades).  My Creative Writing professor said almost the exact same thing where I truly need to look at where I could direct them towards metaphor.  This is where my article from Hastac was one of those moments that happened for a reason (the article is called “Using Collaborative Annotation to develop Creative Writing Prompts”) What I meant by that is reading the article on annotation ideas for students in a creative writing course and make this experience (especially for creative writing) relatively engaging in this lecture.  I believe if I stuck with my plan here in the final (which I posted weeks ago), some of the key points would be lost in the lecture and my whole presentation could be dry.  This is where I found feedback from two people especially helpful in this sense and where I can revise this as I get closer to my presentation date on December 10th (to be exact).

One thing I really enjoyed reading my from peers’ thoughts on the assignment was the research aspect.  That is something I truly value when it comes to creative writing and English literature course because I don’t think you can get a great sense of what the author’s voice based on just one poem or one novel.  My whole understanding is that the students should get that chance to do outside research of the author so that they have an in-depth profile of the poet/novelist.  That way you can separate yourself from the speaker vs the author.  For example, my comrade pointed out that “As student’s carry out the rest of this assignment, the research requirement serves as a tool for concise and thoughtful annotations” (Annotation comrades).  This is where feedback is so beneficial for writers and students of literature because the person gets constructive information to work from.  Feedback should be a chance for students to learn about the process and not be stressed over reading these comments from several people.  In addition to that, I felt my comrade was very creative with the writing assignment portion here just because how many images and metaphors are embedded in the poem.  For example, the speaker said this on one of the lines, “loneliness is lying awake at night, trying to fetch snores” (annotation comrades).  To me, this is a strong line just because the purpose of this exercise was a stream of consciousness and the result was these two metaphors.  I think if the students really use this method in the exercise, it will be very exciting to hear what they produce writing wise and how it is an imitation of Billy Collins’s poetry.

Overall, I felt very optimistic about my assignment (after reading the feedback from my comrade and agreeing with Creative Writing professor on switching the direction for the lecture) because I think this assignment will turn into an engaging lecture.  One of my Creative Writing professors once said: “Perfection is for sick people.”  Likewise, it would be very counterintuitive to expect perfection on this assignment (after conducting two drafts of the plan) and there is always room to grow here.  After all, that’s why we are in graduate school because we have amazing peers to work within the department and it sets us up to succeed once we become English Literature professors.  If all my graduate classes were like this, I truly think the students would find comfort in knowing there is unity in creative writing and English Literature.  I really look forward to shaping this lecture and taking note of other articles we read in class to use as resources for it as well.

Reading Room #8- Using collaborative annotation to develop creative writing prompts

Journal: Hastac

All of this talk of online annotation has gotten me to reflect upon our previous discussions in class on different formats.  I continue to look back at the methods set forth between Genius and Slate; these different methods to authentically use online annotation had set me up for my annotation comrades assignment.  However, this article, from the journal Hastac titled “Using collaborative annotation to develop creative writing prompts” by Rachel Shields, was something I found by accident.  I was talking one on one with my Creative Writing professor, that I am a graduate instructional assistant for, and she really made me really find ways to give direction to the students.  In other words, it was a challenge for her to wrap her head around teaching online annotation to 100 students (who have different majors other than creative writing and english literature) in a lecture hall.  In this article, Sheilds reiterates that many of her students in her short story class found it so hard to come up with creative writing projects.  This is where Shields came to the conclusion that working together as a class with online annotation suited better for the students.

Within the time frame of the course, each group would have 20 students and strongly read (and reread) unique texts for the group they are in.  Some of the stories included: Virginia Woolf’s “Blue & Green”, Katherine Mansfield’s “Miss Brill”, and James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (selections).  With these texts in mind, the students would post the versions of the story on google docs, look for the correct group they are in, and come up with 3-4 annotations (similar to the ones from the big class group,  and look at a craft strategy that suits you well as a writer.  On their own, they would read the annotations they have seen their peers reply to within the exact story.  However, going back into groups, the students would relatively look at a craft strategy they need fine tuning with as a writer.

Using “Backwards Design” as a model, Shields states, ” Include at least one suggestion for content generation (ex: “go to a café and observe how people drink coffee, then put a description of coffee drinking somewhere in your piece” or “read the comments section of a NY Times article and incorporate two sentences from commenters into the dialog you are writing”)” (Shields).  Rachel Shields has goals with this assignment and that is useful for the students.

I found this article by accident and relatable to my lecture in my creative writing course because of how much of this I want to use for the course.  What better way to come up with new ideas on annotation?

The WasteLand discussion-10/30/18

Tuesday’s discussion on how to teach T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland” made me think of how hard it is to teach a poem of that magnitude and the planning that needs to be done.  In other words, it made me think of how context is so crucial with this poem and how that comes into play.  When I first read the poem in Professor Hanley’s English 528 class about a year and a half ago, I didn’t realize how complexed this poem is with students until we really came up with ideas yesterday on how to make sure the students understood it.  For example, I remember coming up with some visual annotations for the poem and going further into the symbolism with each section.  However, this was such a good idea to come up with fresh new lessons to look towards authentic learning with the students.

One thing that I really thought was extremely resourceful was Veronica’s idea of looking at the pre-war/post-war connections to “The Wasteland.”  I would have never thought of that.  It made me think in the class of the literature that could be compared/contrasted to the poem.  For example, even though this is not an American novel, but what if the students read excerpts of All Quiet on The Western Front and contrasted it with the poem?  To me, I think of “The Wasteland” as this pre-war struggle in the world and All Quiet on The Western Front as this post-war struggle.  However, both of them discuss this sort of fear occurring in the world.  That is the connecting theme that could be looked at when teaching “The WasteLand.”

I really thought it was interesting when Professor Hanley simply explained that poems are transactions.  Poems exchange ideas throughout the whole piece and present fragmented ideas.  When we use dialogue in our daily lives, we blurt out fragmented phrases and rarely do we have precise sentences in our verbal language.  In other words, poems reflect the language in which we have learned ever since we were born.

I think this discussion taught me ways to formally come up with a lesson plan for “The Wasteland” because it teaches us grad students to look beyond just coming up with our own assignments and look deeply how we can benefit the undergraduate students in literature.  In fact, this will help me when I take the teaching creative writing course this spring because one of the main projects in that class is to formulate a syllabus.  It stood out to me when someone brought up the syllabus being your thesis for the class.  To me, that is so significant because of the texts being discussed in class reflect your teaching philosophy.  I loved going back to the “Conversations with Text” article because it helped me with how much it is crucial for students to think about the poem and how it makes them feel.  This is something I would want to implement when I get a chance to teach this poem.  I truly wish our graduate seminars included more of this because it gets us thinking about how to really authentically teach these texts and make them learn/unlearn the poem.  We need more student input on how to teach challenging texts like “The Wasteland.”