I am a full-time graduate teaching assistant for first-year writing at the University of Findlay for ENGL 104, and ENGL 106.
In undergrad, the class that grew me as a writer the most was Writing Composition for Teachers. It had me take a close look at the way I had been taught writing and why it had or had not worked. With the knowledge of free writes, outlining, reverse outlining, and an understanding of writing from a teacher’s perspective, I was armed with the tools to diagnose problems in my writing, and I understood the ways to get myself unstuck. As a matter of fact, I wrote half a page of general thoughts on teaching writing before I even made it to this opening paragraph. Instead of staring blankly at the page, I wrote knowing that the way the process works, I’d write my way into something. This meta-awareness of the writing process is what I hope to impart to my students.
In class, I provide meta-awareness by briefly explaining the thought process behind a writing exercise and providing a multitude of tools to get students unstuck during their process. In assignments, I ask students to pay close attention to how they’re writing in order to gain a better understanding of their own process. I also assign reflections to not only formally reflect on the process at hand, but also compare it to previous processes the student has participated in. This way, they can hopefully better reflect on their process and how it grows and changes throughout their writing journey. By providing a less than one-size-fits-all approach to writing, I hope that I equip students with the tools to flex with them through multiple different genres of writing.
Students learn more when they repeat information themselves. I use class activities where students research a specific technique of writing such as in-text citations for APA, and then have the students teach the topic to the rest of the class. This also helps me know how well they understood what they had read, and where I might need to fill in gaps of knowledge. Students collaborate with each other often during the semester by sharing small group discussions with classmates, and by peer reviewing each other’s work.