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Dedicated both to this University's first year student writers and to its graduate student teachers-in-training, the Writing Program at UMass Amherst offers a number of graduate Teaching Associateships for teaching in Basic and College Writing (Englwrit 111, 112, & 112H). TOships in the Writing Program are offered to graduate students at UMass Amherst only. We occasionally hire part-time lecturers on a short-term basis but only for unexpected enrollment increases or other extraordinary needs; for those positions, we typically hire recent MFA/PhD graduates of this University who already have experience and a successful record of teaching in our program. Note: We do not staff Junior Year Writing courses - for information on those positions, contact individual departments directly.
We have a long-standing special relationship with the UMass Amherst Department of English, and most of our Teaching Associates (TOs) are MFA and MA/PhD students in English; but we do occasionally offer TOships to MA/PhD students in other graduate programs at UMass Amherst.
A full TOship in the Writing Program involves teaching three (3) sections of College Writing over the course of the academic year (that is, two sections one semester and one section the other); after one year of teaching College Writing, TOs may request sections of Basic Writing. TOs undergo extensive training before and during their first year of employment in the Program. For more information, see the Teaching Resources section of the Writing Program website, which also includes a link to our Instructor's Handbook.
In 2012-13, TOships in the Writing Program came with an annual stipend of $16,150, which included remission of most tuition and fees (worth about $18,500 for non-residents) and enrollment in a health care plan (worth about $3,300), for a total value of over $36,000 annually. (Students with assistantships must pay mandatory graduate student fees of approximately $1,400 per year, plus a one-time-only graduate entering fee of approximately $360.) More information on graduate student employment at UMass Amherst can be found at the websites of the UMass Amherst Graduate Assistantship Office and the UMass Amherst Graduate Employee Organization (GEO).
TOships are renewable up to a certain number of semesters (depending on the graduate program) barring unforeseen budgetary circumstances and given satisfactory progress towards degree and satisfactory performance teaching.
The application process for TOships in the UMass Amherst Writing Program is competitive. Each year, in consultation with the relevant Graduate Program Directors, we hire about 20-30 new TOs for open Writing Program positions, but we typically receive three to four times that number of applications, mostly from prospective graduate students in the English Department's MFA and MA/PhD programs but also from currrent graduate students in English and other departments at UMass Amherst. The application has multiple parts: besides basic identifying information, applicants provide a curriculum vitae of their academic and employment history, letters of recommendation, an expository writing sample, a short answer to a question about effective teaching, and a response to a sample student essay. Applicants who are accepted into their graduate program and who are deemed acceptable by the Writing Program are then interviewed, either in person or by telephone (we do not guarantee an interview to all applicants). The first offers for new TOships for the following academic year are usually made well before the April 15 deadline for acceptance to graduate study at UMass Amherst. Applicants who do not receive a TOship from the Writing Program but decide to come study at the University anyway are welcome to apply again the following year, though there is no guarantee that a TOship will be offered then. Not all returning applicants are re-interviewed.
Applications are judged on the following criteria:
interest in and commitment to the teaching of writing and to our students’ development as writers;
knowledge of and compatibility with the Writing Program’s philosophy of writing instruction — or indications of a philosophy of teaching and writing which complements that of the Writing Program;
openness and adaptability towards the Writing Program curriculum and different styles of teaching and learning;
insight into the writing process — ability to articulate both the complexity and the excitement of writing;
professionalism — indications of maturity (ability to handle a class), reliability, collegiality, responsibility; and
experience — teaching, tutoring, and/or experience working with diverse populations, L2 writers, or learning disabled students.
Applications for Writing Program TOships for the 2013-2014 academic year can be downloaded in Word format here and as a PDF here. Applications are preferred by December 15, 2012 and will be accepted no later than February 1, 2013.