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7. Grad. Student Instructors

Teaching is an important component of your graduate education.  Every effort will be made to offer students in Comparative Literature a variety of GSI appointments so that they may diversify their teaching dossier in preparation for the job market.  If it is likely that you will look for future academic positions in a foreign language department, it is especially important to make sure that you have experience in language instruction.  It is also valuable to have experience in teaching freshman composition, as this will prepare you to teach at a wide range of colleges and universities. 

7.1 GSI assignments

When Comparative Literature students begin teaching in their second year of graduate studies, they are usually assigned to teach a freshman writing course in the English Department (English 125). Depending on availability of GSI positions in language departments, some students in Comparative Literature may apply for teaching a lower-level language course.  Each unit has its own system for GSI training and may, in some cases, require that GSIs register for a pedagogy course during the first semester when they are teaching.  

Students teaching in their third year of graduate study are usually assigned a GSI position in Comparative Literature (a freshman writing course for COMPLIT 122, or a discussion section for COMPLIT 100, 141, 200 or 240). Some students may continue teaching language courses or submit applications via the Department of Comparative Literature to be considered for a GSI appointment in Great Books. 

Students in their fourth year and beyond may have the opportunity to propose their own topic for a Comparative Literature course at the 200 level, or they may be assigned GSI positions in COMPLIT 122 or COMPLIT 24O.  They can also apply to the Comparative Literature department for GSI positions in Great Books (usually no more than two years), or for language teaching in other departments.  We also encourage students to take initiative in applying for GSI opportunities in Women’s Studies, Screen Arts, Judaic Studies, American Culture, Sweetland Writing Center, the Residential College, and other units related to their areas of research.  If you have faculty members from these departments on your committee, it is a good idea to discuss with them your teaching interests and find out what kind of courses they would recommend for you to teach. Teaching appointments in other units are governed by those units’ policies.

The Department deadline for GSI applications, with your teaching preferences, is March 15.  Students will be notified of their GSI assignments by the end of April, whenever possible, and will receive a GSI contract to sign in accordance with GEO guidelines. 

Sometimes the Department of Comparative Literature is able to offer teaching opportunities for GSIs during the Spring or Summer terms.  These positions are advertised as they become available, and priority will be given to experienced GSIs with a strong teaching record. Please note, GSI appointments during the Spring or Summer do not count toward the Ten Term Rule.  

7.2 Submission of course description and syllabus

After making GSI assignments, the DUS will review descriptions submitted by GSIs for courses in Comparative Literature.  GSI course descriptions must be approved by the DUS before they can be posted on the LSA Course Guide.  GSIs must submit a complete syllabus no later than the first day of classes to the SSvC by email, to keep on file.  The SSvC should be given access to your Canvas course site as an owner.

7.3 GSI Mentoring

The Department of Comparative Literature gives continuing attention to the pedagogical training of GSIs. While teaching assignments will vary according to the progress of students within the doctoral program, enrollment patterns in Comparative Literature, and the availability of courses in GSI appointments in other units, the Department is committed to creating a community for Comparative Literature students to share their teaching experiences and to think together about developing and teaching courses effectively. GSIs will receive training, mentoring and feedback in various forms:

CRLT GSI Orientation. The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching organizes a two-day GSI Orientation at the end of August. All Comparative Literature students are expected to attend this general orientation at least once. If you are scheduled to teach for the first time, be sure to arrange to be back in Ann Arbor at least one full week before classes begin so that you can attend this training.

GSI Training. Comparative Literature students receive more specialized GSI training in the unit where they are assigned to teach. Please note, GSI’s teaching English 125 for the first time are required to attend workshops organized by the English Department Writing Program (EDWP) in April and in late August; they also receive support in the form of Mentoring Groups in the English Department. GSI’s doing language instruction are supervised by Lecturers in the language departments, and may be required to register for a pedagogy course. GSI’s leading discussion sections for Great Books attend weekly GSI meetings with the faculty member teaching the course, and the DGS will arrange for additional GSI mentoring for Great Books as needed.

GSI Mentoring Meeting in Comparative Literature. A general GSI mentoring meeting on pedagogy is organized once a year by the DUS in late April, introducing students to a range of topics (developing course description and objectives, creating lesson plans, leading discussion, structuring writing assignments, commenting on papers, etc.). Please note, GSIs who are preparing to teach for Comparative Literature or Great Books in the following year are required to attend the GSI Mentoring Meeting in April, and all other GSIs are encouraged to participate, regardless of the courses they are assigned to teach, as an opportunity to discuss their teaching experiences and exchange ideas.

Comparative Literature Syllabus Workshops. The DUS schedules syllabus workshops for discussion and final revision of syllabi submitted by GSIs before the Fall term and again before the Winter term. Please note, participation in syllabus workshops is required for all GSIs who are teaching Comparative Literature courses; other Comparative Literature students are welcome and encouraged to participate as well.

Classroom visits. The DUS will schedule classroom visits as needed from Comparative Literature faculty members to give feedback to GSIs who are teaching Comparative Literature courses. We also encourage all GSIs to make arrangements with CRLT for “Midterm Student Feedback,” which involves scheduling a visit from a CRLT consultant, who will observe a class meeting and then talk informally with the students taking the course in order to provide feedback to the GSI. Please note, GSIs are required to schedule a CRLT visit if they are teaching a course in Comparative Literature for the first time. GSIs will also benefit from visiting each other’s classes for informal observation, and they are welcome to ask faculty members in Comparative Literature about the possibility of visiting one of their undergraduate courses taught by faculty. Finally, it is a good idea to ask a member of your dissertation committee to visit one of your classes so that a description of your teaching can be included as part of a letter of recommendation.

Course Evaluations. For the purpose of academic advising and GSI mentoring, course evaluations (E&E forms) for GSIs are kept on file in the Comparative Literature Office, and instructors should maintain their own record as well, especially in cases where teaching is outside of Complit. An electronic copy should be submitted to the SSvC for record keeping. These may be used for the purpose of feedback on teaching, academic advising, GSI assignments, and nominations for fellowships and awards.

Nominations for Outstanding GSI Awards. In November, faculty and students are invited to nominate GSIs for the Rackham Outstanding GSI Award. GSIs who are nominated for this award will be contacted by the SSvC to submit supporting materials by December. The Graduate Committee will then review nominations and select candidates to be forwarded for consideration by Rackham, giving priority to more advanced students with longer teaching records. 

7.4 Resources for GSIs

Center for Research on Learning and Teaching. CRLT offers many valuable resources for teaching, including a guidebook and online resources for GSIs, a series of seminars on teaching topics, a program for completing a UM Graduate Teacher Certificate, and individual consultation services. For program information see CRLT website.

Sweetland Writing Center. Sweetland offers support for instructors who teach First Year Writing Courses. See their website for guidelines to develop writing courses, tips for responding to student writing, and more information.

Language Resource Center. The LRC has a multitude of resources in support of teaching languages and help for integrating instructional technology.

Newnan LSA Academic Advising Center. Lara Hamza is our Comparative Literature liaison at the Newnan Advising Center. The academic advisors at the Newnan Advising Center provide general academic advising and support for undergraduates; their website has more information about LSA policies, academic standards, student resources, and other services for undergraduates.

University of Michigan Library. You can ask a librarian to help you set up resources especially tailored to a class you are teaching, including research links on Canvas and various workshops to introduce students to library research. For more suggestions contact, Barbara Alvarez, Subject Specialist for Comparative Literature, at Hatcher Graduate Library.  

GSI openings. Departments that appoint graduate students outside of their own academic unit as GSIs or GSSAs will publish notices about such openings on U-M Careers website

Graduate Employees Organization (GEO). GEO is the labor union that collectively negotiates employment contracts for Graduate Student Instructors and Graduate Student Staff Assistants at the University of Michigan.