Reading to Write

I remember the day I began to understand what a thesis statement was, not with a vague understanding that it tells the reader what my essay is about, but a more specific understanding of its form and function. It was my senior year of college, and, ironically, I was taking a course that would teach me how to teach students to write.  Continue reading

“How to be in the Class”

Every year I try to remind myself that I always survive the month of October, even when it feels that I won’t. Between committee work, meetings, mentoring, advising, organizing our annual celebration of student writing, and observing graduate instructors’ classes, I have little time to read, to write, to sleep, or to think clearly, for that matter. On top of all of these responsibilities, I also have several classes to teach.

I’m not special. October is busy for everyone in academia. Continue reading

“Everyone is an Author”


Every year, I teach at least two sections of Expanded Composition, and for the last three years, we’ve used the textbook, Everyone is an Author. The book is not perfect, but in many ways it aligns with our course goals and learning outcomes, especially for Expanded Composition. This course is designed to support students who score 19 and below on the ACT by providing them with a full year to meet the learning outcomes for ENG 101. Our department’s research shows that the students enrolled in Expanded Composition often outperform their peers in 101 and in the research-focused 102 course. The Expanded course allows students more time for each project and, because the classes are a little smaller, more one-on-one time with the instructor. Therefore, the students tend to be more prepared for future coursework. Every year, after the course ends, I reflect on what my students and I have achieved, and I set new goals for myself for the next year. It’s a time that is important for me as an educator: to decompress and to refresh. And this year, now that the semester has ended, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to teach Expanded Composition, how I can do my job more effectively, and what it means to be an author. Continue reading