2017-2018 Lead TA for English: Grant Dempsey
Office: SH 2349
Hours: Tuesdays 4:30-5:30, and by appointment
What does the Lead GTA do?
The Lead GTA is a peer mentor. This means that I’m not in any sense a supervisor, but here only to help—to assist GTAs in the department and to build on previous Lead GTAs’ work in encouraging us all, as graduate student teachers, to think more frequently together about the work of teaching.
I will be organizing workshops on a variety of teaching topics. Although I will intend these to be especially helpful to those who are first-time GTAs this term, everyone will be welcome to attend each workshop, whether a first-time GTA or not. My goal is simply to grow the department’s general atmosphere of pedagogical community, so I invite graduate student teachers of all degrees of experience to join us for these workshops. Each workshop will have a distinct topic, and will be casual and interactive. We will brainstorm and discuss teaching strategies and ways of dealing with particular challenges that can arise in teaching, and hear from faculty and other experienced GTAs about their approaches. Each workshop will be announced individually; please keep an eye out. I’m happy to organize workshops according to demand, so if there is a specific teaching topic that you would like to suggest or if you would like to volunteer to speak in one of the workshops, please feel free to contact me.
I will also be performing in-class observations for first-time GTAs and available to do so for other GTAs by request. If you are a GTA running a tutorial section and you would like to select a particular one of your tutorial sessions for me to quietly observe, so that I can offer you some external perspective and feedback on your teaching style, please feel free to contact me. This would not be a formal evaluation, so you should not be nervous about contacting me for this! My aim would be only to provide you with constructive and totally private feedback, and chat with you about teaching.
I will be available for one-on-one consultations as well. If you are having any sort of trouble as a GTA, or if you would like to discuss anything about teaching strategies, please get in touch with me! I am happy to meet by appointment and during my regular office hour (see above), and I am happy to correspond by email.
Who am I?
I am a fourth-year doctoral candidate at Western’s Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism, where I also completed my MA work, and my background is in literary studies. My dissertation research is interdisciplinary, and concerns the genealogy and current variety of theories that intertwine ontological pluralism and concepts of world and world-formation.
Since 2013, I have worked as a GTA for a total of seven terms, running tutorial sections each time. I received one of Western’s Graduate Student Teaching Assistant Awards in the winter of 2016 for my work in Dr. Nick Dyer-Witheford’s second-year course MIT 2100G, “The Political Economy of Media.” I received nominations for a GSTA Award again in the 2016-2017 year, for my work in Dr. Sasha Torres’s MIT 2200F, “Mapping Media and Cultural Theory,” in the fall and for working again with Dr. Dyer-Witheford for MIT 2100G in the winter.
I very much enjoy teaching, and I’ve learned a great deal from many of the conversations about teaching that I’ve had with fellow graduate students through my years at Western so far. It can be tremendously rewarding to share with one another our ideas about the work of education: to find out from each other what various approaches we take in our classrooms, in our grading duties, in our conversations with our students—what has worked well in engaging students and what hasn’t. I’m excited to carry on such conversations and think about teaching together with all of you here in the Department of English and Writing Studies.