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Teaching Assistant Preparation

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Graduate Student delivering public lecture

​Our students also seek out opportunities to connect with the general public. Pictured: Megan O'Donnell on a paid speaking engagement at the Marple Public Library in 2018

​The English Department, in collaboration with the University Writing Center, has a professional development and teacher training program for all graduate Teaching Assistants (TAs). The goal of this program is to provide graduate students with the knowledge, skills, and experience in a mentoring environment to prepare them to become college and university teachers of writing and literature.


Fall Semester

Most first-year TAs serve as tutors in the University Writing Center for undergraduate and graduate students and faculty who use the center.

In August, new TAs attend a Writing Center Orientation.

During orientation sessions, TAs learn strategies to help them in the Writing Center as well as in the classroom. TAs learn how to tutor one-on-one and how to evaluate student writing effectively. In addition, TAs learn to teach and tutor students in writing in the disciplines, being responsive to different teaching and learning styles, as well as strategies and problems of teaching grammar and sentence structure.

New TAs in the Writing Center attend regular weekly TA meetings to discuss writing center theory and practice.

Topics include teaching the writing process (invention strategies, evaluating a draft, revision); teaching active reading, summary, and writing from sources; evaluating and responding to student writing; resolving classroom management issues; using peer response groups; and conferencing effectively.

As preparation to teach their own composition classes, TAs experience these training methods.

1. TAs enroll in Composition Theory and the Teaching of Writing (ENGL 688), a three credit graduate seminar.

The seminar stresses theories and issues about the teaching of writing: topics include literacy, grammar, the essay canon in composition texts, and more. The course assists first-year TA's in selecting textbooks, designing their syllabi and writing assignments, and evaluating student writing in the ENGL 110 classroom. By the end of the course, each new TA is expected to develop his or her own ENGL 110 syllabus which follows the goals of the Department's Writing Program.

Here is a helpful resource for new instructors:

 E110 Sample Curriculum

2. TAs enter a teaching apprenticeship with a seasoned instructor to teach a section of ENGL 110.

Spring Semester

First year students are typically assigned to serve as an apprentice for an advanced class in their chosen field (Literature, Film, or Rhetoric and Composition). This allows students to further their understanding of teaching strategies in their field.

Most TAs will continue to tutor in the Writing Center and will teach their own sections of ENGL 110.

Teachers attend regularly scheduled gatherings with WP staff to discuss how their teaching is going and to share insights and issues.

During the term, a WP administrator visits each TA's class.


During the second year, TAs are expected to teach three (3) sections of ENGL 110. This is accomplished by carrying a 2-1 teaching load, teaching two sections during one semester and one section the other semester. In the fall, each TA usually teaches two sections of English 110 and has another visit from WP administrators to observe a class session.

In the spring, each TA usually teaches one section of English 110.

Depending on availablity and seniority, TAs may have the chance to teach courses in the 5-week Winter and Summer sessions.

TAs do need to serve a teaching apprenticeship for a literature course to become eligible to teach such a class. The teaching apprenticeship experience involves a semester-long attendance of an undergraduate literature course and discussions with the professor about the syllabus and the assignments, and may also involve some teaching with the professor's guidance.

An orientation procedure is also available for TAs with experience or interest in teaching Written Communications in Business.


During their Ph.D. study, TAs can expect to teach first-year (ENGL 110 and Honors ENGL 110) and advanced writing courses (ENGL 301, 302, 312).

Experienced instructors are also eligible to teach during Winter and Summer sessions. Experienced instructors are encouraged to serve as mentors to first year TAs working in the WC, participate in local, regional, and national conferences and colloquia on writing (CCCC, CTE annual orientation, department colloquia, etc.), edit the literary magazine, Caesura, participate in the popular Poets in the Schools program, serve as judges for the Arak writing awards, gain administrative experience as assistant to the Writing Program, develop or manage the Writing Program website, etc.

Each spring, the department makes an Outstanding Teacher Award to a TA.

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  • Department of English
  • 203 Memorial Hall
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • University of Delaware
  • Phone: 302-831-2361