Orientation Information for TAs

Graduate students who receive a teaching assistantship with the Composition Program are required to attend a weeklong orientation workshop in addition to enrolling in WRIT 540.

The Composition Program´s Orientation Workshop constitutes the beginning of a teaching assistant´s contractual work as a composition teacher at UM. The workshop is typically held from 9-4 the week prior to the start of classes. All incoming TAs will receive a letter from the English Department in June with more details.

Learning Outcomes for TA Orientation

New teaching assistants should strive to:

  • Gain some initial knowledge of the questions, issues, and concerns of Composition Studies as they relate to the teaching of first year composition. We´ll address questions like these: What is rhetoric and composition? How do we evaluate student writing?
  • Begin to develop an understanding of the curriculum you´ll be teaching and begin to explore your relationship to this teaching context.
  • Begin to develop confidence in your ability to teach WRIT 101.
  • Acquire an understanding of policies, procedures, and your related responsibilities as a TA (and where to go to get help with these things).
  • Develop a sense of community with other first year TAs.

General Information about Writing 101

Here´s some basic information about the WRIT 101 course at UM:

  • All sections follow common course outcomes and share common policies.
  • All sections assume learning to write is a complex endeavor that takes place unevenly over time and in different contexts. It is an active, rhetorical, and recursive process of inventing, shaping, and editing texts for particular audiences in particular genres and contexts.
  • All sections require similar amounts and types of work.
  • All sections use a rhetoric to help students learn about our approach to teaching writing. We´re currently using a customized version of Bruce Ballenger´s The Curious Writer.
  • All composition courses use the same handbook.
  • All sections use portfolio assessment.

These common points help give our composition program a coherent purpose and approach, and they help guarantee that each student who takes WRIT 101 at UM will have a similar experience and learn similar rhetorical strategies for researching and composing. Finally, common outcomes and approaches help guide instructors in designing day–to–day assignments as well as the arc of a semester.