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February 28, 2015


The Pressure is on for English Teachers

freshmancompI teach English at GCC. Technically I teach Freshman Composition, but we say English when asked what we teach. Composition is writing. This is a very interesting considering I majored in English Literature. You know: Beowulf, Shakespeare, Austen, Joyce and Lawrence. I was never taught to write beyond ENG101 and ENG102 in undergrad, but I was expected to do it in every literature class I took. I eventually graduated with a degree in English Literature. So what kind of job does one get with a degree in English Literature? Education or teaching is the number one option. So here I am, teaching English at GCC.

What you can garner from that short story is that most college students get very few opportunities to learn how to write, even when you are studying to be an English teacher. I eventually earned a masters degree in education where I learned to teach writing, but composition classes prior to that were minimal. That is why ENG101 and ENG102 for our students is so crucial. For most it will be their only opportunity to learn to write for their college careers and life in general. Those important skills they learn in Freshman Composition include:

  • Written and other communication skills
  • Understanding complex ideas and theories
  • Research

So the pressure is on for English teachers – ENG101 and ENG102 teachers. These are important skills that go beyond just writing an essay. We’re trying to teach students to think critically, read critically, research critically, and then write. That’s what makes Freshman Composition challenging for students. For the most part, students know how to write or they should considering they just spend four years in high school learning how to do it. But college writing is different. There’s more at stake considering this may be students only chance to learn these skills. Yet many students don’t see the importance of these two courses. They take it for granted.

As I sit here reflecting and writing, I’m all that more thankful for the English teachers I had at Phoenix College and Yavapai College. Because with out that foundation those instructors instilled in me, I really don’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing today. And I don’t just mean teaching English. I mean blogging and writing all over the internet in social media sites, writing emails to my colleagues, and writing in my profession. I’m thankful I have the skills, written and other communication skills, critical thinking skills, and research skills, to do my job and do it well.

Read more from ENG101, ENG102, Teaching, Write6x6
1 Comment
  1. Chris Krause
    Mar 3 2015

    Life is not a multiple-choice test. In order to assess what my students have learned, I ask them to research and write about certain Geographic topics (multiple choice tests are online and open-book). The questions I ask them to answer often don’t have right or wrong answers, but they should be backed up with evidence from lectures, class notes, pictures, maps, and outside research. Of course, this means extra grading for me, but I really believe that the ability to express oneself in written and spoken form is important in future success in higher-level education, on the job market, or in the community. It is expected that someone with a degree can do just that. With that said, I can often tell which students have been successful in their English 101 and 102 classes, and which ones need more assistance. I really appreciate the work all of the English teachers do in helping students get the skills, so when they get to my class, they can apply them.

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