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 10/23- Writing is Hard

Journal: HASTAC

Academia is all about the shared experience of learning between college professors and the students as well.  This is what leads to authentic learning inside the classroom.  However, sometimes an instructor needs to show the students how challenging tasks such as writing can be in the world.  In the article from HASTAC titled Writing is Hard by Cathy Davison, Davison reports on a lab experiment with John Hopkins and the Community College of Baltimore County.  This experiment consisted of 4 individuals at a shared computer screen and the goal was to help improve upon each other’s writing.  These tasks consisted of teaching each other how to construct a strong thesis and develop your voice as a writer by taking a stand.

 

On the other hand, this is where it is completely different.  Some screens included doctoral students creating their chapters and dissertations.  With the opposite screen, instructors were writing their books, grants, and abstracts.  All of this was completely next to each other to demonstrate to the student population how challenging and rigorous writing is for college professors.

 

In fact, one of Davison’s students provided at great lengths constructive feedback on her novel.  All of this goes hand in hand with the concept of professors and students collaborating on the writing process.  For example, Cathy Davison says this about the process, “The novel has been through three thorough rounds of revision and I anticipate three thorough next rounds” (Davison).  All of this is designed for the revision process to be a joint effort with several college professors identifying the complexities of writing itself.

 

I found this article to be very relatable to my experience as a creative writing student because I think writing is so challenging for instructors as well.  I have struggled trying to get my work even published this early on in my writing career.  I have done my best to submit to the creative writing transfer literary magazine, but get rejected in the process.  However, what makes it so promising to me is to hear the tribulations other Creative Writing professors trying to get published.  Writing is such a tough profession to get to into creatively and with academia as well.

 

Furthermore, this article has taught me the importance of collaboration for authentic learning at the college level.  To truly grasp this idea of what college professors go through with their writing and link it to the challenges a student writer has as well.  It is something I possibly would want to investigate further detail because I would want students to understand it is ok to struggle as a writer and that it is not easy for college instructors either.  This is the true importance of feedback in the world of academia.

https://www.hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson/2018/08/07/writing-hard

Here is the link to the larger story as well: https://hub.jhu.edu/2018/07/26/ccbc-mellon-summer-humanities-research/

Reading Room 10/16- Student-teachers Across the Curriculum Learn to Write Feedback Does it reflect on their writing?

Journal:  The Journal of Effective Teaching

Feedback is extremely crucial in the writing process and all writers need noted elements to improve on.  However, there are often times where people may not give the best feedback and it doesn’t constructively respond to authentic learning.  In the Journal of Effective Teaching article “Student-teachers Across the Curriculum Learn to Write Feedback Does it reflect on their writing?” by Esther Cohen-Sayag, Cohen-Sayag focuses on feedback on quality writing (more than themes and language aspect of writing).  Feedback is very crucial for teachers in their classrooms.  But do many teachers truly practice accurate methods to give/receive feedback?  Cohen-Sayag looks beyond the English teachers in this study and based off of other subjects.  Sayag gives an overview of this study by looking over how feedback changes with writing competency.

Writing down feedback is one of the ways a teacher-student relationship creates a conversation with their work.   In other words, the teacher may give quality notes on how the student could improve their writing or possibly the teacher will give questions for the student to think about on this assignment.  Feedback enables the students to have a chance to put more effort into their work and truly dive into the material.  What seems to be the challenge with receiving feedback on writing is that students want to appease their teacher and not writing based on authentic learning.  The intentions are not clear for students that feedback should be a consistent conversation between a teacher and student to express the writing.

In this article, Cohen-Sayag delves into the complexities with feedback, “The complexity of feedback writing depends on the context of the writing circumstances, teachers’ perceptions and goals and on the writing assignment” (Cohen-Sayag, 6).  The teacher’s goals on this writing assignment shouldn’t be highlighted during the feedback process.  If the goals truly do not match the feedback given by the teacher, the student is not authentically learning.  However, this is where Formative feedback comes in handy for students.  Formative Feedback relies solely on looking at the goals they want with their writing and how could they project their writing to the readers.  They would need to forget about on all the spelling mistakes and everything relating to syntax as well.

The resulting effects of feedback from the teacher in this study found behaviors and methods was very crucial for these student writers.  Second language writers felt feedback on condensed writing qualities was more helpful than non-condensed notes on their writing.  Second language writers found it extremely challenging to find those spelling/grammar mistakes and that their feedback had to be directed at their writing.

Other problems with writing feedback can cause so many challenges for teachers.  This one has to do with teachers look at specific lines they point out in an assignment and ignore the importance of comprehending the writing process each student uses.  The other one has to do with a teacher being extremely critical and do not give too much positive feedback on their writing.  Lastly, teachers are too bogged down on the technicalities of writing and completely disregard the ideas included in the assignment.

The course for teachers to practice accurate feedback and make sure they are ready to give notes for their future teachers.  The feedback should give the teachers to look back at their writing themselves.  However, it gets very tricky when it is strongly stressed this process is very formal.  The teachers should authenticate their learning by giving feedback in order to read the children writing.  All of this will be based on the child’s point of view in the writing.  The teachers need to read the writing aloud the written text with their colleagues so that accurate discussion is met in this course.

I found this article to be relative to my experience as a graduate instructional assistant in the creative writing program because it helps pose questions for me when I give feedback.  I have had creative writing professors tell me to always give positive notes and where they could expand in regards to craft.  However, in my practicum seminar, I hear my peers tell me it is challenging to continue to praise the students’ work all the time because not every paper they turn in will be great the majority of the time. In addition to that, I have to continue to stop myself from giving them formal notes on their writing and look more at their ideas.  How could their ideas be improved on by using craft elements?  To me, that is authentic learning inside the classroom because as an instructor, you are interested in their ideas.  We are taught by our former instructors/teachers that we have had in the past to put emphasis on grammar.  Correct grammar and spelling should be crucial for a student because you do want the writing to follow, but are we too engrossed in that aspect?  Shouldn’t we be fixated on their concepts that work with their writing?  That is something that I learned with this article.  It is something I need to continue to work on as a graduate instructional assistant.