April 15, 1996
Literature Practicum—Exit Small Group Conference
1. What were the strengths of the Literature Practicum?
The Literature Practicum helped me both pragmatically and theoretically with my teaching of literature. I believe that this class has been invaluable to me for my present teaching and my future instruction. In-class discussions, visiting speakers, lectures, and out-of-class readings have provided me with years of information that has helped me to become a better teacher and person.
2. What did you benefit from the most?
Group discussions and lectures were of equal benefit to my learning. The discussions allowed me to see what my colleagues are practicing and what they believe, while lecture delivered practical and theoretical knowledge that we, as students, would not know otherwise.
3. What did you enjoy most?
I enjoyed hearing other points of view and being introduced to things that I had never considered. I appreciated learning in what areas I am weak and that teaching is a life-long pursuit.
4. What need to be changed about the course?
Course content should not be changed. Perhaps the requirements for the class should be reconsidered by the department; see below.
5. What one thing do you remember most?
Unfortunately, I most remember the difficulties we had with the class. I know that this semester was the class’ premiere, so contingencies will undoubtedly arise. I believe that we worked through those hard times together and were able to benefit in the end. Additionally, I remember the excellent discussions—particularly the group activity about ways of learning—and the symbiotic relationship that the class eventually fostered.
6. Do you think the course should be on equal footing with LAE 6375 Composition Practicum?
Definitely, the course should be on equal footing. The importance of teaching literature is equal to, if not more important than, the instruction of composition, especially to those of us in the literature program. We should receive credit for the integral work that we have accomplished in this course.
7. Do you think the course should receive regular grades rather than SU?
Yes. The amount of work that is necessary to make a class of this caliber beneficial should definitely receive credit.
8. Do you think the course should be required of all teaching assistants, not just beginning teaching assistants?
This is a potential controversy. Yes, I don’t think that any new teacher, no matter how devoted he/she is, has the drive to obtain this knowledge on his/her own. Dr. Fiore has provided us with her prodigious research and knowledge about teaching literature—a definite necessity for all English instructors.
9. Discuss how the course has affected your classroom teaching.
At the very least, I have become conscious of my presence in the classroom. I thought that I could, on my own, address all the needs of my students; if the students did not learn, then it was their fault. I realize what a pretentious and fatuous assumption that was, having taken this course. It is just as much my responsibility as it is the students’ to teach and learn. Each student is unique and must be related to as an individual with different needs. There are no masses (except in church), and my relationship with my students is, perhaps, the most important aspect of being an effective teacher. I have become aware of my deficiencies and my strengths and know better how to utilize and improve them to lend efficacy to my relationship with my students.
10. As a result of this course, do you feel more confident or better prepared to teach?
Yes, my confidence in myself has been augmented due to this course. This class has proven that teaching is also learning. I will never get into a position where I am too comfortable with what I do in the classroom. I must continue to explore and grow both as a teacher and a human.