The philosophy of the program: Students often ask "why are we doing this?" You can prepare for this question by carefully reading the ENG 1301 PDF and Downs and Wardle's 2007 CCC article. This will be a re-read for anyone who has taken ENG 675 with me.
You can also watch this video about ENG 1301.
You may also read my forthcoming encyclopedia entry about Critical Pedagogy.
Finally, you can read this exerpt from Ira Shor's book Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change. COMING SOON.
Student/Teacher Conferences: One-on-one, at least twice a semester, and at least one before midterms. Recently I have come to believe that three times a semester is necessary, and the first conference should be around week three to make sure students understand the expectations of the class before it is too late. It usually takes a full week to conference with all students (at least fifteen minutes for each student), so it is standard procedure to cancel classes during conference weeks. If you're unsure how to conduct a student-teacher conference, don't hesitate to ask me for ideas. One common strategy: let the student lead. Start the conference by saying "what can I do to help you today?" and let the student set the agenda for the conference. These conferences should give students a good idea of how they're doing in your course.
Plagiarism unit: I know that talking about plagiarism in your course is a big bummer, but we need to address this issue early on in this semester in a responsible way. I strongly suggest going through the plagiarism unit in Problem Posing: Readings for Democratic Learning thoroughly and carefully. I suggest not addressing plagiarism as a "moral issue" (i.e. you're a bad person if you plagiarize-- both because it's not true and because students don't believe it's true) but as a violation of the discourse community-- a term you and your students will be very familiar with thanks to Problem Posing.
Directed revision: Practice makes perfect, and writing courses are all about practicing their writing in order to improve it. Scholarship and experience shows that students need more direction than "this essay needs to be revised." You should give students specific guidance for how to revise. For example, you might advise the student to reorganize the essay, but you need to explain why the essay needs to be re-organized, and show the student some strategies for reorganizing their essay. It's better to be explicit.
Rubrics: I use rubrics to grade undergraduate essays for a few reasons. First, I like that I can give specific feedback with a rubric. Second, I like that students can see, just by looking at the rubric, what they can do to revise their essay. Finally, I have always felt like a rubric provided me as a teacher a kind of protection from grade disputes. If a student questioned my grade, rather than having to go back and figure out why I gave the grade in question, I could look at the rubric and see why I gave the grade. Contact me for some sample rubrics I've used-- I'm happy to share.
Reading Responses: Reading responses are good for a few reasons including (1) they force your students to complete the reading; (2) they give you the opportunity to check to see if your students are understanding the reading; and (3) they force your students to learn how to engage an assigned reading. As an instructor, you probably won't read these texts as closely as you would read a major writing assignment. For undergraduates, biweekly reading responses seem appropriate. You can either require students to write a response to a specific reading assignment, a reading assignment of their choice, or synthesize their response to multiple reading assignments. Some instructors require students to print clean, revised, polished copies of these responses at the end of the semester in a portfolio, both so they can see students' response quality improved throughout the semester and so that students can see how much writing they completed. The "Questions for Discussion and Journaling" found at the end of each reading in Writing About Writing are a good source for response prompts. Unlike graduate students, freshman students most likely need response prompts. And this might seem like a "given" to you, but not to undergraduates: tell students to cite their sources and include an MLA works cited so they'll get into that habit.
Quizzes instead of attendance: Rather than taking attendance everyday and tying attendance to the grade or a participation grade, I have found that giving a quiz at the beginning of the class period that cannot be made up is more effective. You can create a policy stating that you will drop (for example) the three to five (depending on the class) lowest scores, which give students some flexible when missing class cannot be prevented. This strategy will also encourage students to be in class on time if the quiz is at the beginning of class.
Coverage of textbooks: Textbooks are expensive but important to this course. While I have purposely used publishers that do not mark prices up too high on textbooks, our university bookstore often marks books up more than 100%. Therefore, it is important that students do not feel as though we have wasted their money on a textbook they don't use.