Tips from a Teacher

Three mornings a week, I find myself in a cramped classroom in the basement of Cherry Hall to teach two sections of English 100. As a graduate assistant and first-time English instructor, every day presents a new challenge and learning experience.

It’s been a weird and rewarding journey over the past 11 weeks, one that has given me new insight into the world of academia. Here are some of my more memorable teaching experiences this semester.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental (kind of maybe).


Just writing to say l;ksdjgflkenrgf

We all reach that point in the semester when our academic and sleeping patterns begin to overlap, but it’s best to try to hide that from your instructors. To maintain the façade that you’re on top of things, try not to send your instructor an email when you’re about to fall asleep.


Cool off before you press send

Getting an unsatisfying grade might fill you with enough burning fury to send an angry email to your instructor, but hold your horses (now, don’t let them get loose). Instructors are much more likely to respond to an inquisitive email than an accusatory one, so check your tone — and grammar — before firing off something too incendiary.


I’m your instructor, not your mom

Instructors are often asked for advice on topics outside their content areas, but there comes a time when they hit enlightenment capacity. In my 11 weeks of teaching, I’ve been happy to answer questions about campus, cover letters, major changes, residence halls and speech outlines. But do you really need to send that email asking if your essay title is OK?


A great man once said

There’s nothing wrong with being confident in your assignments, but be careful not to go too far. If you find yourself beginning a conclusion with “As I once stated” in reference to something you wrote earlier in the paper, you might need to take it down a notch.


Please address the prompt

When starting a writing assignment, it’s usually in your best interest to have a reasonable idea of the prompt. For instance: if you’ve been asked to write a short essay about your past academic experiences, submitting an essay that’s actually about a Florida vacation you once took is certain to be a bit of a head-scratcher for your instructor.


That’s not my name, that’s not my name

Hoping to get on your instructor’s good side? Start by learning their first and last names — and being aware of the difference between the two. For reference, my name is Brenna Sherrill not Sherrill Brenna. And it’s also definitely not Breanna.