First-Year Writing Program
Graduate Student Teaching
One of the distinctive features of Emerson’s MFA in Creative Writing and MA in Publishing & Writing programs is the opportunity for graduate students to gain experience and credentials in teaching writing as instructors in the First-Year Writing Program (FYWP) and as teachers and tutors in FYWP community writing projects.
Teaching and Community Writing
Graduate students who are interested in teaching begin by taking WR600: Teaching College Composition, which is required to apply for teaching positions in FYWP and the community writing projects. This graduate seminar provides a historical context for writing instruction in the U.S. and familiarizes students with writing theory and pedagogy as they write short essays and peer reviews, develop assignment sequences, read and respond to student writing, and design a syllabus. The shared experience of learning to work together on curriculum and assignment design is the gateway to involvement in the participatory ethos of FYWP and its community writing projects.
Instructorship and Mentoring
At Emerson, teaching in FYWP is not linked to financial aid in the form of a teaching assistantship. Instead, students wishing to teach usually take WR600 in either the fall or spring semester of their first year in the program (although it can be taken any semester). Then, every spring, students who have taken WR600 are invited to apply for a position as a FYWP instructor the following academic year. In recent years, around 30% of the graduate students who apply are selected to be instructors in FYWP.
Those chosen as FYWP instructors teach the two-semester sequence: WR101 Introduction to College Writing in the fall semester and WR121 Research Writing in the spring semester. The WLP graduate students selected to be FYWP instructors take part in a year-long practicum and smaller mentoring groups. They also have the opportunity to complete directed studies in rhetoric and composition and to participate in affinity groups on civic engagement and translingual approaches to writing.
A Collaborative Environment
FYWP lecturers and instructors, as well as teachers in the community writng projects, are encouraged to publish, present at conferences, apply to doctoral programs, and innovate in their classes and present results to the program. The program runs regular career development workshops on applying for teaching positions, including CV design, cover letters, and teaching portfolios; on writing successful conference and grant proposals; and on applying to graduate schools. All facets of the FYWP, including the community writing projects, regularly come together for meetings and discussions, creating a collaborative environment committed to an ongoing involvement in the intellectual and creative work of teaching writing.