Tuesday, February 23, 2016

On T.A. Training

I found this week’s readings to be some of the most approachable and enjoyable of the year, simply because I am currently in that space of new teaching assistant. I think that these readings help to show those of us that are new T.A.s that feelings of anxiety, lacking of confidence, feeling overwhelmed, and having a conviction that you are not able to juggle your workload while still being the “good student” that you were in undergrad studies are all perfectly normal feelings. It also illuminates the difficulties of training T.A.s, which revolve more around time, money, and space, than some struggle between WPA and TA. It is unfortunate that spending time, money, and space in one area of T.A. training takes away from other areas. However, this just means that we must set clear goals and outcomes for what we want and expect out of T.A.s. Personally, as a T.A., I have found our training at BSU to be extremely helpful, interesting, and enjoyable. The only thing I wish we spent considerably more time on is technology in the classroom; I am awful at blackboard. 

Ward and Perry’s suggestions for improving already stable T.A. training programs is probably my favorite area of the readings, as it offered up a ton of cool ways to think about training T.A.s. As a result, it offers up tools for T.A.s, even if the WPA does not mandate them at one’s specific location. For example, the practice of having T.A.s write reflections in journals throughout their time as T.A.s. We don’t mandate this here at BSU, but after reading the section, its something I am going to start practicing. As a potential future WPA, Ward and Perry’s section is something I would definitely return to when constructing T.A. training. 

From a WPA perspective, I think that Latterell’s chapter was helpful in its emphasis on theory in addition to practice. Even in the space of Teaching Methods courses, Latterell insists that we must entrench ourselves in the history, theory, and aims of composition as a larger field, and not make the mistake of teaching them the practice (the how) without articulating the beliefs behind them (the why). I think this emphasis is warranted. I thought the books that we read in id601 did a pretty good job of rooting us in history and theory, and provided reasons as to why, and not just how. In addition, the genres of composition pedagogy book certainly included “multiple perspectives” for writing pedagogies, which Latterell also emphasizes. 

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