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Although teaching Basic Writing and College Writing is our primary mission, the Writing Program does offer TOs a variety of opportunities to gain additional experience. These opportunities range from tutoring in our Writing Center to serving on one of our committees to participating in placement of first-year students. We encourage all of our teachers to take advantage of these opportunities and to become involved in our teaching community. Below are brief descriptions of these opportunities.
Special Project Money: The Writing Program has available a small amount of money (generally up to $200 per section) for instructors to do a class project that will enhance the Englwrit 111 or Englwrit 112 curriculum. Project funding may be used for the purchase of special class materials, entrance fees to relevant on-campus or off-campus events, the publication of a class book, or stipends for off-campus guest speakers. Although projects vary widely, all must show a clear and purposeful relationship to the Basic Writing or College Writing curriculum by somehow enhancing or extending a particular essay unit or the course as a whole. Past funding has supported such special activities and projects as class attendance at a play or film related to a particular essay assignment; design and creation of a publication; costs for in-house conferences involving one or more sections of 112; and stipends for guest speakers. Examples of projects done using special project money are on display in the cabinet on the 3rd floor of Bartlett Hall. The proposal form and guidelines to apply for special project funding are available on the Writing Program website.
Diversity Fellows (spring only): Diversity Fellows are graduate student TOs who want to explore issues of diversity as they relate to the teaching of composition:
to discuss relevant scholarship on the issues of diversity and pedagogy;
to identify areas in the Englwrit 111 or 112 curricula where discussion of diversity would be helpful;
to develop an activity or approach related to diversity and to share this with fellow writing TOs (e.g., through a pre-General Meeting workshop, a presentation at the January Spring Symposium, an activity on the database).
Fellows participate in meetings led by the Diversity Coordinator during the spring semester. A call for applications will go out in the fall semester; a small stipend accompanies this fellowship.
Diversity Coordinator (spring only): The Diversity Fellows Coordinator will lead Diversity Fellows meetings, initially discussing scholarly work related to diversity in the composition classroom and then focusing on the projects selected by Diversity Fellows. Fellows will work in the spring semester; for a few hours in the fall, the Coordinator will also work with the Writing Program to select appropriate readings and plan meetings for the spring. A call for applications will go out in the fall semester; a small stipend accompanies this position.
Tech Fellows (spring only): Technology Fellows, or “Tech Fellows,” are graduate student TOs in the Writing Program who engage in questions of teaching writing with technology, both theoretically and practically, through reading, discussion, and hands-on play with technologies. Fellows meet in a small-group setting, led by the Technology Coordinator. Participation is open to any graduate instructor in the Writing Program regardless of technology experience. In fact, the Tech Fellows program provides a great opportunity for those less familiar with technology to explore the various ways technology can be incorporated into the writing classroom. Fellows are selected for the spring semester; a small stipend accompanies the fellowship.
Tech Fellows Coordinator (spring only):The Tech Fellows Coordinator will lead Tech Fellows meetings, initially discussing scholarly work related to technology in the composition classroom and then focusing on the projects selected by Tech Fellows. Fellows will work in the spring semester; for a few hours in the fall, the Coordinator will also work with the Writing Program to select appropriate readings and plan meetings for the spring. A call for applications will go out in the fall semester; a small stipend accompanies this position.
Travel Funds: The Writing Program has funding available to support travel by its current tutors, lecturers, and graduate Teaching Associates when they are presenting papers directly related to Writing Program courses or programs—that is, Basic Writing, College Writing, Junior Year Writing, the Writing Center, or the Writing Program as a whole.
Note to graduate students in English: Graduate students may not receive travel funding from both the English Department and the Writing Program for the same conference. They may, however, request an exception to this policy if their travel costs are unusually high (e.g., for a conference outside the U.S.) and both the English GPD and Writing Program director agree to this exception. If students are presenting at more than one conference during the year, they may receive funding from English for one conference and the Writing Program for another, if the funding is appropriate to each conference, and agreed to by the relevant director.
For travel fund requests to the Writing Program, TOs should submit to Heidi Terault and the Director of the Writing Program (1) a brief letter explaining how the presentation directly relates to his/her work in the Writing Program and (2) the conference acceptance and proposal/abstract.
The Writing Program offers a range of additional employment opportunities to our veteran teachers. Below are brief descriptions of these positions. Full descriptions of the job duties, requirements, and application guidelines will be announced in the Writing Program Weekly “Blast” and will be posted on the Writing Program website.
College Writing Continuing Education Instructor: The UMass Continuing & Professional Education Division offers online sections of College Writing during the summer. During the academic year, sections of College Writing may also be offered through Continuing & Professional Education and University Without Walls.
Basic Writing (Englwrit 111) Instructor: Basic Writing is a theme-based reading and writing course taught in the Writing Program’s computer classrooms, meeting three hours per week. Like College Writing, Basic Writing focuses on the essay and addresses the composition process: pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and using peer response and in-class conferences with the instructor as ways of informing the revising process. Sentence level issues are addressed both on an individual basis and in class group work. Although this is a writing focused course, Basic Writing carries U.S. Diversity general education credit. TOs teaching Basic Writing for the first time typically teach a 1:2 load and complete six hours of orientation plus a practicum during the fall semester. If you are interested in teaching Basic Writing, contact Anne Bello.
Basic Writing & Placement Coordinator: The Basic Writing & Placement Coordinator provides support to the Deputy Director in the two separate but related areas of Basic Writing and the writing placement exam. S/he helps to provide teacher training to teachers new to Basic Writing, develops supplementary materials for the Basic Writing curriculum and Moodle template; assists with the development of test questions; co-leads summer placement test reading, and scores placement tests (as needed) during the academic year.In addition to these responsibilities, this Coordinator teaches two sections of Basic Writing during the year for a full TO stipend; a stipend is also provided for work on summer placement testing.
Graduate Assistant, Junior-Year Writing Program: (10 hours/week). At UMass Amherst, undergraduate students are required to fulfill two writing requirements: First-Year Writing (College Writing) and Junior-Year writing in one’s major. The JYWP Graduate Assistant assists the Associate Director of the JYWP and the Director of the Writing Program in managing the online system for new courses and 5-year course reviews, maintaining records on JYW courses in each major, corresponding with departments across campus, and contributing to development of pedagogical resources for instructors of JYW courses. This is a half-time administrative position that gives graduate students a glimpse into campus-wide curricula and faculty governance.
Placement Readers: Placement readers read and score the Writing Program placement test administered to all incoming first-year students through the UMass OWL (Online Web Learning) system before coming to New Students Orientation.
Lecturer Pool: On occasion, the Writing Program may need to hire part-time lecturers in order to meet our staffing needs. These positions are usually for one semester only and range from one to three sections of College Writing. The lecturer pool consists of former UMass Amherst graduate students who have taught in the Writing Program.
Resource Center Mentor: Four veteran graduate instructors serve as mentors to new TOs and also work to enhance our teaching community. Resource Staff mentors visit classes of new TOs, are involved in the planning and running of orientation, assist with the Resource Center online database, and attend meetings every other week. Resource Center mentors also teach College Writing. These positions last for one year. Any teacher in our program who has taught two semesters of College Writing is encouraged to apply.
Technology Coordinator: As a member of the Resource Center Staff, the Technology Coordinator will provide technology pedagogical support to the Writing Program teaching staff in the form of workshops and be available for one-on-one consultations. Like other members of the Resource Staff, the technology coordinator is involved in the planning and running of orientation, assists with the online database, and attends meetings every other week. Any teacher in our program who has taught two semesters of College Writing is encouraged to apply.
Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) Assistant Director: This full-time assistantship offers hands-on experience in writing program administration and an opportunity to support writing instruction in a variety of disciplines through long-term collaborative relationships. Responsibilities include consulting with instructors (TAs and faculty) about designing writing assignments, responding to student writing, and developing in-class writing activities; developing and leading workshops with campus partners; offering outreach teaching to classes across campus; writing, revising, and producing pedagogical, and informational resources; and assisting the Director of the Writing Center with other administration and teaching.
Writing Center Assistant Director: This is a full-time assistantship that offers hands-on experience in writing program administration and is an opportunity to tutor student writers, provide support for a large staff of undergraduate and graduate student tutors, and participate in the Center’s ongoing development. Responsibilities include tutoring student writers, mentoring writing tutors, coordinating the Center’s daily activities, maintaining the Center’s materials, and engaging in outreach activities.
Writing Center Graduate Writing Tutors: Writing tutors work with writers in 45-minute tutorial sessions, engage in ongoing professional development about writing and writing education, and assist with campus outreach like faculty and instructor workshops. Graduate writing tutors can work up to five hours per week and must be able to work either a Sunday or evening shift.
The Writing Program has several standing committees that meet throughout the academic year. Serving on a committee is a great way to participate in our teaching community, shape the courses we teach, and gain valuable experience. All committees consist of members of the Writing Program staff and graduate teaching instructors. Below are our current standing committees. Other committees may be constituted based on Writing Program needs and TO interest.
Curriculum Committee: This committee meets monthly to review the College Writing curriculum. Each year the committee identifies specific areas of the curriculum that need to be re-examined. The committee may recommend changes in the curriculum and to our overall training. Members may also develop additional resources and materials for our teachers. Participation in this committee provides useful first-hand experience in curriculum design and development.
Textbook Committee: Depending on the year, the purpose and goals of this committee vary. When the style handbook used for our courses needs to be reviewed, members of this committee review and select a handbook. When a new edition of our Basic Writing textbook or Opening Conversations: A Writer’s Reader needs to be done, this committee takes on the process of editing the new editions. Membership on this committee provides invaluable experience in the process of developing and editing a textbook for a multi-section writing course.
Student Writing Anthology Committee: The Student Writing Anthology is a collection of essays from our Basic Writing, College Writing, and Junior-Year Writing classes. Every semester, teachers are encouraged to submit exemplary essays from their classes. This committee goes through the entire process of constructing the upcoming year’s Anthology, including the selection and editing of essays. Members of this committee gain valuable experience in all the steps of constructing an anthology for a multi-section course.
Best Text Judging Committee: Each year the Writing Program sponsors a Best Text Contest for students enrolled in Basic Writing, College Writing, and Junior-Year Writing courses. Awards for Basic and College Writing are given for first, second, and third, as well as an award for best multi-media project. The winners are honored at the Writing Program’s annual Celebration of Writing held during spring semester. This committee works through the process of reading the submissions and selecting the winners for Basic and College Writing. This is a great way to see what kind of writing our students are doing across all our sections of Basic and College Writing. The time commitment involves reading the submissions and meeting two to three times during the year.
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