Teaching Associates & Graduate Assistants

 

Robert Cullen
Teaching Associate Coordinator
408-924-4454
Faculty Offices 117
Robert.Cullen@sjsu.edu

Selected graduate students work for the Department of English and Comparative Literature as Graduate Assistants or Teaching Associates.

GAs: Most Graduate Assistants help professors who are teaching large classes or multiple sections of composition classes. Their duties may include grading papers, helping design lessons, teaching an occasional class or portion of a class, and holding conferences with students. Some GAs help professors with scholarly research or administrative tasks. See below for a description of workload expectations and benefits.

TAs: Teaching Associates are faculty members as well as students. They work under the supervision of the TA Coordinator and are the instructors of record for one or two sections of English 1A or 1B per semester. They are thus responsible for all elements of the course, from syllabus design to final grades, with support and guidance from the TA Coordinator and the Composition Coordinator. The TA Coordinator will hold meetings and individual conferences, visit TA classes, review syllabi, and advise TAs throughout the year. All TA classes are also formally evaluated by students, using the University's standard forms. See below for a description of workload expectations and benefits.

Tutors: Some graduate students also work outside the department as Tutors for the University Writing Center. See their website for details about applying.

Application & Deadlines

DUE DATE: Applications are usually due March 1, followed by interviews with the MA Advisor and the TA Coordinator. Check the most recent Graduate Newsletter for specific deadlines. Decisions are announced in mid-May.

GAships and TAships are awarded on the basis of students' academic records, relevant prior experience in teaching or tutoring, written applications, resumés, letters of recommendation, and performance in an interview. Graduate students typically work as GAs before being awarded a TAship. TAs usually begin by teaching English 1A; if they teach a second year, they would ordinarily teach English 1B then.

To apply for one of these positions:

1. Have three faculty members writer letters of recommendation for you. Have these letters of recommendation sent directly to the MA Advisor.
2. Write a letter of application describing your goals and your experience, listing the graduate courses you have taken and the grades received, and naming the three faculty members who are recommending you. You may write a single letter of application to cover GA and TA positions -- simply tell us your preference and let us know if you would accept the alternative if offered.

Benefits, Salary, Workload, Fee Reimbursements & Employee Parking Permits

Working as a GA or TA enhances one's professional development. Graduate students who intend to pursue a career in teaching, particularly at the college level, will gain valuable experience collaborating with professors and trying their own hand at such activities as leading discussions, grading student work, and doing research. Applicants to doctoral programs are more attractive when their M.A. study includes teaching or GA experience. One TA serves on the department's Composition Committee .

Graduate Assistants are paid for ten hours of work per week during the semester. Although this can vary, it should never average more than 10 hours per week. GAs receive five monthly payroll checks. The current monthly rate is $433.50.

Teaching Associates receive six monthly checks per semester taught. In 2008-2009, Teaching Associates will earn about $6319 per semester for teaching two composition courses ($3,160 for one course) and will receive fee reimbursement during the semester(s) in which they teach. The fee reimbursement or “waiver” covers mandatory campus miscellaneous fees and mandatory state university fees at the California-resident tuition level. Those teaching one course will have fees reimbursed at the “graduate 1.0 to 6.0 units” rate; those teaching two courses will have fees waived at the “graduate 6.1 or more units” rate. Note that for new employees in Fall, the first payment arrives in November. For new spring hires, the first check comes in March.

The department's Office Manager oversees all appointment and fee waiver paperwork, office assignments, copier codes, and other administrative matters. TAs get a department mailbox and a shared office with a shared phone, desk, and computer. They also receive new student identification cards indicating their TA status. 

TAs may purchase a faculty parking permit (see Employee Parking ). Faculty parking is almost always available at the top of the 7th St. garage.

Requirements & Cautions

TAs may take no more than 6 units of classes per semester, and there is a four-semester limit for TAships. Although the department tries to accommodate TA preferences, re-appointment after the initial semester is not guaranteed. Also, you might be offered only one class when you would prefer two, or be offered English 1A when you prefer 1B.

GAs and TAs do challenging work, sometimes with long hours. It can be difficult to handle the dual roles of graduate student and part-time instructor, especially for students with other time-consuming commitments. TA duties include preparing lessons plans, teaching classes, holding at least one office hour per section taught, attending meetings, and responding to at least 8,000 words of writing from each composition student (more than 1500 pages of writing if you have 50 students).

English 1A and 1B are General Education classes serving the University as a whole. They are not creative writing classes nor introductions to literature. Accordingly, literary texts may constitute only a small portion of the reading material for these courses. For more information, consult the composition section of the website.

There is one course requirement for a TAship: English 259, “Seminar in Composition Studies.” This course must be taken concurrent with the first semester of teaching or before.

In addition to teaching their classes, TAs must attend occasional meetings on Wednesdays from noon to 1:30. They must also attend multiple department meetings a day or two before classes start each semester, and they must participate in the holistic scoring of the final exams on the University's “Study/Conference” day.