Teaching College-Level Writing: the Series

Me, teaching
This series is meant for teachers of writing.

I’ve been teaching writing in US colleges for several years, and before that, I taught English to adults and children in Taiwan. When I think back to the first Composition writing courses I taught (at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey), I suspect I was pretty bad at it.

I meant well, of course: I wanted to tell my students about thrilling artistic-philosophical conundrums, and Flannery O’Connor, and solutions to the indeterminacy of meaning. In other words, I tried to teach too much. A lot of my improvement as a teacher has come through removing things from my syllabus.

A recurring theme of this series is that we teachers have less time to teach than we think. Teaching one thing properly takes a lot of contact hours, and yet I believe it’s better to teach a few things well than fail to teach a wide array of them. This requires, before the term begins, working out what skills you want your students to get better at, and designing a course around those skills. 


  1. The Intro
  2. The Theories
  3. The Diagnosis
  4. Why I Teach Cool
  5. The Essay, The Problem
  6. Every Sentence is a Question
  7. Don’t Grade Too Much

Much of what is contained in the series can be found, in superior form, in three textbooks / guides to teach writing: Critical Passages, They Say, I Say, and Engaging Ideas. 

I would also like to thank own teachers, in particular Holly Blackford, who introduced me to the field.