The guest commentary on April 18, “Give TAs extensive training,” argued that in general, graduate student TAs at WSU could use more preparation. I don't disagree.
However, this seems like an appropriate time to publicly laud the English department for its truly outstanding TA preparation program. Here's how the English department prepares a graduate student to teach English 101:
- Before their first semester, new graduate students in English attend a general orientation session, at which time they are introduced to their responsibilities as TAs.
- As the first semester begins, new TAs have the option to link up with more experienced graduate student mentors. In my experience, most new TAs choose to participate in this program.
- During their first semester, TAs take English 501, a three-credit course on teaching writing.
- During their first semester, TAs do not teach a full class. TAs do not receive their first writing class until their second semester in the program.
- Instead, they teach at least one section of English 102, a small, weekly writing tutorial. During their first semester, the new cohort of TAs meets weekly with writing program administrators to discuss progress in English 102. These meetings are 50 minutes long, and they amount to a one-credit class.
- Throughout their careers at WSU, TAs are required to continue meeting for an hour every Wednesday at the English department's writing teacher workshops.
- At the end of each semester, new TAs - along with every other writing instructor at WSU - are required to attend grade-norming sessions, during which instructors and TAs calibrate their grading standards.
Thanks, WSU English, for your devotion to training excellent educators.
WSU English instructor