Western’s English Graduate programs have earned a strong reputation over the last twenty-five years for graduating people who are ready to step into many different kinds of classrooms. Graduate students in English are entrusted with teaching the University’s first-year writing course. Many graduates of our program go on to secure part-time and tenure-track positions in community colleges and are awarded teaching assistantships in PhD programs. Our alumni become engaged and contributing members of many teaching or educational communities.
Graduate students teach Western's first-year writing course as the instructor-of-record for one section (24 students) of English 101 for each quarter of their contract*. We offer approximately 10-15 new English 101 teaching assistantships each year (depending on undergraduate enrollments). Graduate students who are awarded these teaching assistantships can expect to teach in both their fist and second year (subject to interest, funding and satisfactory performance). These assistantships provide excellent teaching experience and financial support.
Check the Graduate School website for details on teaching assistantship stipends, tuition waivers and fees.
You’ll notice that we have purposely used the title, “graduate student teaching instructor” to describe the English 101 teaching assistantship. The phrase “teaching assistant” is a bit of a misnomer because you are not assisting another teacher; you will be the teacher of record for your own class of students.
We are committed to your ongoing learning, within the framework of a dynamic and collaborative teaching community, and so, English 101 instructors receive generous and ongoing education, training and support from the Director and Assistant Director of Composition, along with support from a collegial cohort of fellow English 101 instructors.
Prior to your arrival on campus, you may receive copies of our 101 texts for the year (or an email containing websites, text and other online tools) and important information regarding the program.
Before the start of fall quarter, all new and returning English 101 instructors gather for a week long mandatory orientation each year. Here, you will receive a detailed annotated syllabus and all the materials you need to construct and teach the course during your first quarter. In addition, new instructors take a graduate seminar that introduces them to field of composition studies and focuses on practical and theoretical issues of teaching first year writing. Throughout the year, all English 101 instructors continue their education and professional development by attending weekly staff meetings and end-of-the-quarter paper readings.
Graduate students also have the opportunity to take additional graduate seminars in rhetoric, composition, and pedagogy. Our graduate student teaching instructors bring a direct and indirect range of experiences with them. Some have prior teaching experiences, although prior teaching experiences are not a requirement. Some have been writing center assistants, K-12 coaches and tutors, interns, discussion leaders and graders for professors. Some bring valuable student experiences with them: classroom presentations, experience with collaborative group work, workshop and reader response activities, editorial experience, experiences with deep revision practices. Some bring community and work experiences: professional writing experience, editing experience, technological savvy, customer relations, coaching and camp experiences. Some bring experiences of living, studying, and working in other cultures. All of our graduate student teaching instructors bring their desire to learn and gradually develop their expertise while they are here.
You’ll find that serving as an English 101 instructor complements your role as a graduate student by providing you with valuable teaching experience, and a chance to put your learning to immediate use in ways that are mutually rewarding for you and your students.
*While some teaching assistantships can be awarded for a full academic year, (one or two quarters, full or half time) ALL teaching assistantships are performance based and should a students' performance warrant a corrective action plan up to and including termination of a teaching assistantship may occur at ANY time. Our teaching assistants have mostly full-time appointments that require 20 hours of service per week outside of their own course work. To include weekly TA meetings and all other mandatory meetings & trainings. It should go without saying that attendance is important.
In the past, many of our graduate students have been able to secure a work study position as editorial assistant for the Journal of Educational Controversy. (An interdisciplinary electronic journal of ideas) The purpose of this peer reviewed journal is to provide a national and international forum for examining the dilemmas and controversies that arise in the education of citizens in a pluralistic, democratic society. If you are interested in a position with the journal, you may apply as soon as you are admitted. To request a job description and application, contact Lorraine Kasprisin, Editor, Journal of Educational Controversy, 360-650-3871, Lorraine.Kasprisin@wwu.edu. Journal of Educational Controversy: http://www.wce.wwu.edu/Resources/CEP/eJournal/
Graduate students who are awarded work study are eligible to work as Research Assistants for our professors in the English Department. While these positions do not come with a tuition waiver, they pay well and provide unique experience and opportunities for learning about the profession, as well as to develop mentoring relationships with your supervisors.
Note: In order to be considered for a work study appointment, you must have had to check the box "work study" as an option when applying for your FAFSA financial aid. If you are unsure or need any assistance, contact the English Program office or Financial Aid at Western.
We are pleased to have some funds available for our graduate students to travel to conferences to present their scholarly and creative work. Renewable graduate research grants of up to $1000 are also available for research relating to the Master's degree thesis. Both graduate travel and research funds are available on a competitive basis. All requests and/or application for funds MUST be submitted timely, in advance of any travel, and with all required and supporting documents or the student could forfeit any and all funding or any possible travel reimbursements. Such grants are renewable on a year to year basis and can be canceled at any time at the departments discretion. Please note that most approved grants DO NOT cover all travel expenses and student is responsible for paying expenses upfront and being reimbursed after travel has commenced. See the Graduate Program Office (HU325) for more details and information on department travel.
Scholarship applications are accepted on an annual basis. Only currently attending students who will be enrolled the following academic year may submit an application. The call for scholarship applications is sent in Spring and the applications are typically due mid-April.
Ethel Grady Church Scholarship
This scholarship honors Ethel Grady Church, a long-time resident of Bellingham and friend of the English Department. It supports an upper-division or graduate student majoring in English who has been at WWU at least three quarters. Recipients should exhibit high potential for making a contribution to society. In addition to the application form, students must provide an unofficial grade transcript and a brief statement explaining their future goals and career plans. The most recent award amount was $500.