Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What have I missed?

We are at the point in the semester where I am wondering, "what have I missed?" "what didn't I cover?" "what do new TAs need that I haven't provided?" I can take a couple of guesses, but I hope they just tell me ; )

1. More direct discussion of teaching writing, teaching rhetoric, teaching genre. I worry that I assume too much--I assume that a rhetorical approach to writing is familiar to TAs, when it probably isn't.

2. I worry that we don't do enough in class. We discuss and talk, but I am not sure what everyone / anyone takes away from class.

3. I also worry that there are just so many things about teaching that can't exactly be taught. My 110 class last Thursday was a talk-around on zero drafts. My students were a bit sluggish, and not precisely responding to each other, so I filled a lot of silence with questions and ideas for their papers. I have been teaching "new literacy" for quite a while, and this is my research area, so that was easy for me to do. Probably not the case for others, which is why TAs and other teachers want to teach material they are familiar with. The class was more or less successful, and the general principal of circling up and talking is easy enough to teach, but a whole bunch of other things had to happen to make things work.

Okay, that point has got me thinking about the need to get material into the hands of TAs so much earlier than I currently do. I was jotting notes on this yesterday--I should probably prepare a welcome letter / package as soon as somebody is accepted, I should probably have CTW and any supplemental texts ready, I should probably have some technology suggestions ready. Don't know if anyone could feasibly start to prepare themselves in May, June, or July before teaching, but it might be worth a try.

Getting the materials into hands sooner does not, of course, entirely answer the question, "what have I missed?" I will need to get the TAs to tell me.


Sybil said...

Don't worry so much; One can't do it all. I've tried putting all sorts of things in my syllabus like examples of papers, and I still have students who use an incorrect format when it's right in the syllabus. Anyhow, I hear where you are coming from, but I wouldn't beat yourself up too much.

p.s. Thanks for being a great co-pilot last weekend. I am getting my "geek on" again this weekend with NCTE. I hope I come home with even more ideas. Then I'll eat a lot of turkey and sleep it all away... :-D

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