The English Department supports its students with a required teaching practicum, opportunities for teaching in the third and subsequent years, and workshops in publications and professional development designed to assist the teacher, the researcher, and the job-seeker (all of whom are the same person).
The Teaching Practicum
The Practicum—officially called The Teaching of English—meets once a week, like an ordinary graduate seminar, with weekly reading assignments such as articles on pedagogy and literary works to be discussed in terms of teachability. Discussion topics include strategies for teaching different genres, generating and sustaining discussion, lecturing and TF’ing, and responding to student writing. Assignments commonly range from group presentations on teaching strategies to the delivery of a mock lecture and the development of a complete syllabus. In addition, all Practicum students attend an introductory English course for the entire semester, where they teach at least one class, grade at least one set of papers, and take on other tasks by agreement with the course leader. The Practicum is offered every year and is taken by students in their second year.
Daily Themes “tutors” attend the weekly lecture on a particular topic, after which the students each write five short pieces relating to that topic. Each week, tutors read the writings of their students and meet with each person for an average of half an hour to discuss their work. The course is offered in the spring term.
Under ordinary circumstances, an English doctoral student will be appointed as a Teaching Fellow (TF) for one course in each of four semesters, in the third and fourth years, when the teaching stipend will replace the fellowship stipend. TFs attend the professor’s twice-weekly lectures, lead a fifty-minute discussion section once a week, comment on and grade student papers and exams, meet with students as necessary, and generally contribute to the course in whatever ways the professor requests (such as by meeting after lecture to discuss the course and by helping to design paper topics or exam questions).
The English department makes every effort to assign students, in their first year of teaching, at least one semester teaching a course in their period or area. However, breadth of teaching experience is valuable, and assignments may be made to an out-of-field course.
Part-Time Acting Instructor
The English department offers its graduate students the opportunity to teach their own courses in a supportive environment—experience that is extremely valuable on the job market—via appointments as Part-Time Acting Instructors (PTAIs). Most PTAIs are students in the sixth year and above who have already TF’ed for two years and finished their dissertation fellowship year, but students entering their fourth year are also eligible to apply. Each PTAI leads a seminar of one of the following courses, more complete descriptions of which can be found at http://english.yale.edu/courses/introductory-courses: 114 (academic writing), 115 (introduction to literary study), 120 (essay writing), 121 (writing seminars), 127 (American literature), and 129 (Tragedy) and 130 (Epic). Some of these courses have a set syllabus, while others involve considerable creativity on the PTAI’s part. All courses are coordinated by a faculty member, who advises the teachers in staff meetings and is available for consultation.
The most advanced teaching opportunity available to graduate students at Yale, the College Seminar Program sponsors twelve courses per term that are individually designed by the course leaders. Complete information about the seminars and the application process can be found at the College Seminars web site, http://yalecollege.yale.edu/content/residential-college-seminar-program. The deadline for applications is the first Friday of the semester for courses to be offered the following semester, and applications must include a variety of supporting materials. Graduate students who teach College Seminars are compensated at the PTAI level.
Yale Summer and Special Programs
Yale offers undergraduate-level literature and writing courses through its Summer and Special Programs division as well as courses in English for international students through the English Language Institute (ELI). Upper-year English graduate students are encouraged to teach in either program. Prior experience with ESL teaching is desirable but not required, and some training is available. Students who are ABD are eligible to teach summer courses in English 114 (academic writing), 120 (essay writing), and sometimes in upper-level seminars. ABD students are also encouraged to design their own courses and submit them to the Summer Programs office for approval. Summer courses must be of general interest (i.e., not too specialized) and cannot demand prerequisites. Students who are interested in teaching their own courses must submit a complete course description and detailed week-by-week syllabus to the Summer Programs office in September of the year preceding the summer in which they would like to teach. For more information about summer courses and teaching opportunities, visit them on-line at http://summer.yale.edu and http://summer-eli.yale.edu/.