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Advice, Peer Review/Conferencing

Starting All Over Again

Welcome back to the WSU Teaching Blog! As a new academic year begins, we pledge to bring you a dizzying array of interesting conversation-starters, issues of the day, and tips for making your teaching life at Wayne State a rich and rewarding experience. Look for new posts on Tuesday and Thursdays, and consider subscribing by clicking on the link in the upper right-corner of the blog’s home page.

A lot has happened over the Summer which will provide much of the new content you’ll see on the blog this year. Under the auspices of the Assessment and Curriculum committees, this Fall a group of pilot instructors will begin teaching sections of ENG 1020 focused on teaching for transfer—sections especially designed to help students became more aware of their own writing practices and the skills they’ll need to write in the wide variety of learning situations they will face throughout the university.

In addition, efforts continue to expand offerings of ENG 3010 that focus on Writing about Writing. Graduate Teaching Assistants Derek Risse and Joe Paszek have finished work on a resource site to help instructors prepare to teach such sections of 3010 and you will be hearing more about the site and the course over the next several months.

If you’re teaching this term, and why would you be reading if you weren’t, you know that the first few weeks of class present a wave of new faces and new names. All of our students come to WSU with their own unique stories, and hopefully they’ll get to share some of those stories with us in the months and weeks ahead. Sharing those stories can be anxiety-provoking for many students and many are simply overwhelmed by the scale of WSU and the dramatic difference between college and high school. We also know that many WSU freshmen are the first members of their family to attend college, and for these students, the transition to WSU presents them with both intellectual and personal challenges that as instructors, can be easily overlooked. SO, consider ways you can get to know your students, and for them to get to know you, over the early weeks of the semester. Requiring a visit to your office early in the term, to NOT talk about their work, is a good way for students to see where you live and for you to hear a bit about their lives outside of the over-determined context of the classroom. These early conferences don’t have to be long; they do not have to be deep, but they can go a long way towards building rapport that can be of great value as the semester unfolds.

On behalf of everyone in the Department, here’s hoping you have a great start to your semester.

Thomas Trimble is a Senior Lecturer in the English Department. He is also a recent Ph.D. graduate of the department, whose dissertation “Rhetorical Outcomes: A Genre Analysis of Student Service-Learning Writing” used genre theory to theorize writing assessment issues in service-learning courses. Thomas is currently teaching ENG 1020, and has taught ENG 1010 and ENG 3010 previously.

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