The English Department gives continuing attention to the pedagogical training of graduate student Instructors (GSIs); this training includes courses on pedagogy and an extensive system of mentoring. GSI teaching assignments will vary according to their degree program, their progress within that program, the availability of courses, and enrollment patterns in undergraduate courses. Second-year MFA students usually teach one semester of English 125 (College Writing) and one semester of English 223 (Introduction to Creative Writing).
Before any GSI teaches a first-year writing course (a .50 fraction appointment), the GSI participates in two preparatory workshops offered by The English Department Writing Program:
- A concise, afternoon training session at the end of the winter term of the student's first year that focuses on resources and strategies for course design during the upcoming summer, and
- A two-day workshop one week prior to the beginning of the subsequent fall term of the student's second year that focuses on issues relevant to teaching (e.g., handling classroom dynamics, leading productive discussions, strategies for grading, assignment scaffolding, etc.).
Both workshops are mandatory for GSIs new to teaching introductory composition or creative writing in the department and count toward fulfillment of English 993.002, a one-credit pedagogy course. Completion of English 993.002 also includes participating in a faculty-led Mentoring Group and attending teaching colloquia that take place throughout the first semester of teaching.
Support to the GSIs is also provided in the form of Graduate Student Mentors, experienced GSIs who have demonstrated expertise in the classroom. The GSMs are available for classroom visits, midterm sessions, micro-teaching videotaping, and mentoring sessions. GSMs are available both in general office hours and by appointment. The GSMs also maintain the Composition Resources website, which provides access to a variety of teaching materials, and organize teaching colloquia throughout the year.