More about My Teaching

I have not exactly hidden the fact that I am continuing to teach despite my certainty that I will never have the kind of full-time teaching job I expected to have either as an undergraduate or a grad student. Many of the posts I make in this webspace are devoted to that end, in fact, such that listing them would be folly; they are easily enough found. And of the classes I have taught, the one I most often find myself teaching is second-semester composition, whether as a traditional English 102 or under some other name used by one school or another for purposes that are not always clear to me. Indeed, nine of the last twenty-one classes I’ve taught since returning to Texas (including the course in progress as of this writing) have been of such sort–more than any three other courses in that time combined.

A Site of Writing
The image is mine from several years back.

Teaching such classes takes up a fair bit of my time (though far less than it used to) and perhaps a larger part of my thoughts than it should. And some of those thoughts run back to when teaching was my primary job and I thought I’d be doing it as a career. Then, I made a point of writing samples of the assignments I asked of my students, offering them models to follow in putting together their own work. I’ve not been doing so in the past year or so, partly because I already have quite a few examples developed, and partly because, well, teaching’s a part-time job for me at this point, and I’m not sure I have anything better–or even else, really–to offer my students now. That I don’t still do so sometimes nags at me. I am still doing the work, and I still want to do well all the work I do; not working alongside my students seems somehow to be an admission of deliberately doing badly. Too, I feel my own skills in researched writing are decaying somewhat; I do not do much scholarship of any sort any more, tending more towards ruminations like this or my commentaries on the Tales after Tolkien Society blog. And because that makes me less good at what I’m teaching, it makes me less good a teacher, which sits ill.

I suppose the answer is to follow the course sequence my second-semester composition classes are facing, working through a nebulous topic selection process to generate a proposal and tentative outline before producing an annotated bibliography and generating three drafts of a paper and a presentation based on it. And I suppose my students would benefit from having not only the embedded model to follow, but also my comments about my process in putting such a paper together. It looks like I will be teaching second-semester composition again before the year is out, so even if it is late to help the students I have now, it may well be of use to those who will follow after them…

Teachers don’t make much. Care to help offset some of that?

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